RevolutionZ

Ep 1 - Why Vision / Why Strategy

May 19, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
RevolutionZ
Ep 1 - Why Vision / Why Strategy
Chapters
RevolutionZ
Ep 1 - Why Vision / Why Strategy
May 19, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
Michael Albert
Why RevolutionZ emphasizes Vision and Stategy
Show Notes Transcript

This first episode of RevolutionZ discusses the widely unacknowledged but nonetheless universally pressing need for activist, long-term, shared vision and strategy to provide hope, to orient and inform current actions, and to ensure that we wind up where we wish to arrive and not elsewhere.

This first episode therefore explains why RevolutionZ emphasizes vision and strategy. It  motivates episodes to come and, truth be told, it also begins my journey of moving from no experience with podcasting toward becoming steadily more adept at providing quality delivery and content.

If you have reactions, questions, or especially advice and suggestions for that journey, please send to michael.albert@zmag.org

To support RevolutionZ, please visit our Patreon Page.



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Speaker 1:
0:01
Hello. My name is Michael Albert and this is the first episode of RevolutionZ, a new podcast.
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0:06
Our topic for episode one is why vision, why strategy, as central themes of this new podcast. We have an analysis of current society that shows why we need fundamental change. We understand the ills and the horrors of racism, of sexism, of power and authoritarianism, of economic inequality, and in particular of ecological disaster. We know how to propose immediate actions, able to be immediately undertaken. For example, marches, boycotts, strikes, occupations, electoral campaigns, and much more. We can assess the effects of our actions. Do they win their aims or not, and why?
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0:46
Is there a problem with that? Evaluate the present and take action approach? Is there something missing? I think there is. Yes, we have compelling analysis of why we need a new society, but we have no evidence that we can succeed.
Speaker 1:
1:05
How do we motivate others to join with us in undertaking the task without such evidence? Example: Imagine a person says to you, "I just don't see it. I realize that we live in a horrible situation. I realize that everything is broken. But to join you in this battle seems hopeless." What do you say? How do you answer that?
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1:30
I think what we tend to do is to say again how bad things are. Again, how important it would be for things to be better. And we might talk about justice and freedom and democracy and and racial integrity and other such values, worthy values, but then the person says to us again, "wait a minute. I know that by my efforts I can help myself. I know that by my efforts I can help my children, my spouse. I know I can do those things. Not easily, but I can do them. I don't know, I don't believe that I can change society. It seems like a fool's errand. You don't even explain what the new society would be, why it would be better. You certainly don't tell me how we're going to get there and you don't tell me how my joining, how my taking time away from helping my family, would have an impact that matters."
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2:27
I think most of us are stymied by that response. We are not able to overcome that rational concern over whether or not it makes sense to join movements for social change. It turns out that without having enough clarity to be convincing as to where we are going and without having a flexible strategic plan for how we can get there, we can't make a convincing case that we can succeed, and without that case that we can succeed, we can't gain sufficient support to do so. In other words, it turns out that we need vision and strategy to motivate involvement.
:
3:03
Second, with no vision of what a new society we seek can look like and with no long-term strategic plan for how we can get there and not wind up elsewhere, we can't ensure that our immediate actions will lead where we wish to arrive. We can act courageously steadfastly with integrity, with energy, but but we can't be sure that what we're doing is actually taking us where we want to go. All too often, in fact, we do things and later we discover that they take us in a circle and sometimes they even take us someplace where we don't want to go. They yield authoritarianism, they yield backbiting. We need vision and strategy to provide direction and to help us assess our actions' effects. We need vision and strategy also to assess how to best ensure that the seeds we plant now can later grow into the society we seek.
Speaker 1:
3:56
We also need shared vision and strategy so we are all working on the same ultimate end and in compatible mutually supporting ways, rather than our efforts clashing and even contradicting one another. It is shared vision and strategy that can bring together our many movements with their many agendas, climate change, immigration reform, racial justice, abortion rights, worker's rights, gender equity, housing, education, healthcare and many more, so that we are all part of one large project each helping rather than ignoring or even competing with the rest. Okay, so we need not only criticism of what is and not only proposals for things we can do now, but also shared long-term vision and strategy. Honestly, it seems nearly self evident. Who would seriously doubt that for any complex undertaking it is wise and it is even essential to have some clarity about where you are going and the means to get there.
Speaker 1:
4:51
If it's so obvious, then maybe there is already plenty of shared vision and strategy so we don't need to emphasize that priority as central in a new podcast. I do a major left activist website called ZNet, and so I spend a whole lot of time online surveying what is written and discussed. It turns out, at least as best as I can tell, that we who write for alternative media and offer thoughts and debates for assessment certainly persistently address the current tusanami of violent ills. We persistently highlight Trump aggressively enlarging institutional mayhem. We note that to passively watch the world burn as bad enough. We add that to actively light the fires burning the world is existentially worse. We conclude that to gleefully unplug alarms and incarcerate fire brigades as Trump is doing is the kicker. We rail against all that passionately, insightfully, ceaselessly. Indeed we focus so much on Trump, and before Trump so much on society's most malicious reactionary trends, repeating over and over how bad it all is that we barely mention what we want, our vision or how, how to get it, our strategy, especially long term. Why?
:
6:03
Imagine that people's fears of climate incineration, nuclear Armageddon, rampant poverty, racism, mysogyny, and cultural vapidity, however, briefly did not make us depressingly cynical. Imagine instead that in a free thinking, relaxed state we were urged to express our desires, not our fears. What do you predict would be poll answers to the following questions, especially among young people?
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6:27
Do you favor killing millions of Iranians in an inferno of human corpses or do you prefer peace? Do you favor curtailing solar and wind and enlarging oil and coal at the cost of sibmerging coastlines and making once a century storms weekly Holocausts, or do you prefer emphasizing solar and wind while financially protecting those now laboring in but not owning the coal and oil industries, by undertaking an incredibly massive green new deal. Do you believe government should serve the rich and powerful in their corporations at the expense of everyone else? Or do you believe the government should provide services that improve the well being of everyone else while reigning in the rich and powerful and their corporations? Do you favor transferring wealth from those who now struggle to survive to those who are already rich beyond any possible human utilization? Or do you favor the reverse? Do you favor racism, homophobia, and misogyny that ridicules denies, sequesters, and brutalizes, so many or do you favor a diverse approach to life that guarantees all people dignity and full rights? Imagine positive aspirations were widely and effectively enunciated about all these matters by tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions and tens of millions of people with careful reasoning, abundant evidence, and compassionate empathy on behalf of humane answers. What then?
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7:50
Perhaps some with otherwise fine values sadly believe that nearly everyone would answer like our disgusting, vile, irredeemable, thug-in-chief. But for those who think that the preponderant drift of society is already overwhelmingly humane or even just that it could easily become so with broad efforts that reverse false fears and beliefs, a practical question arises. Why don't more of us try to envision and win new institutions in tune with most people's desires? After all, our point ought to be not just to understand the world or to passively and even silently have humane views about it. Our point ought to be to change the world by actually implementing our humane views.
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8:36
Our's is certainly among the worst of times, just view corporate and government policy trends, international relations trends, climate trends, and even the emergence of strong fascist tendencies. Power is running roughshod over people. Ours is also, however, among the best of times. Just view popular openness to progressive, radical, and even revolutionary aspirations and sentiments and the tenuous basis of contrary beliefs. Just view the incredible reach and scope of narrow issue, short time horizon, but nonetheless highly progressive projects and movements.
:
9:11
So why do we write for alternative media or we who offer podcasts or we who do activist projects and organizing so often largely ignore, minimize, or even deny and certainly not aggressively celebrate and pursue the positive? Why do we so often multiply, highlight, exaggerate, and wallow in the negative? Why don't we pursue shared positive vision and strategy? Why do we so often proclaim and reproclaim that the societal glass is nearly empty? Why do we discuss and rediscuss its emptyness, try to prove and reprove its emptyness, and even to predict and to reproduct that it's only getting emptier. Why do we look forward and so often see only dystopian emptiness? Why don't we envision a fulfilling future? Why don't we write not just to reveal current glass emptiness, but to describe and discuss how to attain comprehensive glass fullness?
Speaker 1:
10:06
Is the answer that we are cowed by fear of oppression or that we are callous or lazy? Many people, even activists think so, but dp the countless people who would humanely answer our hypothetical questions listed earlier, really suffer those ills? Are all the people now working tirelessly and courageously for mitigating one aspect of social pain or another - lack of housing, low wages, sexual predation, racist violence, poor education, horrible healthcare, war, or climate catastrophe - or preventing one new reactionary step or another, reducing rights and elevating elites, restrained by fear of oppression? Are they callous? Are they lazy? I don't think so. I think the idea that fear, callousness, or laziness are what mainly impedes emergence of unified movements for comprehensive visionary change is actually nonsense.
:
10:59
What about depression, cynicism and defeatism. Are they what limits our formulations and actions? Do more than a handful of people, even among among those already active escape those ills. Do those factors explain our not producing shared long-term vision and strategy? And even if like me, you think depression, cynicism, and defeatism are obstructing progress, why are we so depressed, cynical, and defeatist that it demobilizes us or at least limits the range of our desires and actions to being anti this or anti that, but not pro a real vision of liberation? Why are so many of us eager and energetic to block Trump, to pile critique upon critique of Trump, to rail it and work against racism, sexism and inequality even at risk to ourselves, but not eager to even think about what winning really positive, humane, lasting social gains across all facets of society can look like and how it can be achieved? Why don't more people want to not only win back modest prior gains that Trump has rescinded, but also to win new liberation we haven't yet had?
:
12:06
Why do so many of us believe that espousing and working for comprehensive structural gains is a fool's errand, not worth support, much less active involvement. Why do we accept that the best we can attain is warding off literal insanity, mitigating some pains but leaving basic underlying relations untouched? Why do even courageous, energetic, socially immersed movements to overcome Trumpism or to prevent global incineration or flooding or to block surging racist and sexist violence or to mitigate corporate greed rarely rise to the level of envisioning and openly seeking more than only offsetting current losses or moderately mitigating current injustice in one or another realm of life? Why don't our movements pose truly positive, encompassing, liberating aims and more, why don't they share and connect their separate aims so they mutually enforce one another? Why is there often more backbiting than having each other's backs?
Speaker 1:
13:03
Why do so many already aroused and courageous folks, much less folks who are incredibly angry and shocked, but who are not yet active, disparage even conceiving of new institutions that could really meet human ends and unleash popular potentials, much less work to join them into overarching vision that transcends single focuses? Why is there so little presentation of answers to the very fair question that we so often hear from family, neighbors, and workmates who we reach out to, who say to us, "yes, I know what you dislike, but what do you really want and why do you think it is desirable, possible, and attainable and how do you think you can win it much less why my help would matter?" Why do even radicals and even those deemed revolutionaries so often dismiss efforts to formulate and present much less to unify around comprehensive demands and innovative institutional social vision and associated program and strategy that if we had it could inspire hope and commitment and enjoin and guide actions?
:
14:05
Whatever the totality of answers to these questions may be over the past 50 years. If another world is to be made actual, don't we first have to get on with conceiving it? If it is to be won, don't we have to proclaim it, believe in it, and collectively plant its seeds by our strategic choices. For these past decades from the sixties to now, has our lack of shared vision and mutual aid been a self defeating prophecy of failure to win? We don't have a long-term vision, so we don't have hope, much less strategy for long-term transformation. So naturally we don't pursue it. Our eyes are not on the prize because we don't even make clear what the prize is. Isn't that something to correct? Does anything beyond habit held over from the past and hopelessness stemming from our own unchallenged immersion in a world that says there is no alternative obstruct us from finding the audacity to overcome those internal limits.
Speaker 1:
14:59
Whatever other priorities we who write for alternative media and we read and we will organize and demonstrate and yes we who podcast may have, shouldn't we also prioritize overcoming our too frequent, lack of vision? In the old one liner, shouldn't we dare to struggle, dare to win even if doing so requires that we overcome our own cynical doubts of fear of failure or doubt of her own worthiness, andnd even if it risks ridicule from our friends, family, and allies calling us utopian, naive, or arrogant. RevolutionZ answers affirmatively, which is why we will rail at and critique injustice, but also always and mainly envision a better future and consider how to best get there. Call it utopian, call it naive, call it arrogant, no matter, it ist necessary.
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15:45
This is Michael Albert signing off until next time for RevolutionZ.
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