RevolutionZ

Ep 260 Strategy for Change and Winning a New Society

December 16, 2023 Michael Albert Season 1 Episode 260
RevolutionZ
Ep 260 Strategy for Change and Winning a New Society
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Episode 260 of RevolutionZ Considers strategy for  winning a new economy and society. A bunch of recent episodes have again addressed what do we want. This one talks about how we win it. It mainly addresses issues of reform, reformism, and revolution, issues of  building worthy and viable campaigns and projects, and of moving from sporadic dissent that dissipates  to sustained commitment that wins, from mobilizing intermittently to organizing persistently by overcoming obstacles to the latter. Lots of real world examples argue for and apply general proposals and insights. The point is, No Bosses and recent RevolutionZ episodes based on it  highlight nice desires. Can we win them? How?

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Michael Albert:

Hello, my name is Michael Albert and I am the host of the podcast that's titled Revolution Z. This episode, our 260th, continues a sequence that is presenting chapters from the book no Bosses written very carefully a couple of years ago, including that now I intermittently, spontaneously comment on the material as I read it. Two years later, 260 is 5 times 52, which is to say Revolution Z has now been posted each Sunday for five years running. So what do I make of that? I guess, honestly, it indicates that I'm awfully obstinate because, again, to be honest about it, there is not much evidence indicating that what it has achieved, and yet I persist obstinately. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind you lose, you lose, you lose, you win. It was from Rosa Luxemburg, a long gone German revolutionary who we named our local SDS chapter after, I guess roughly 55 years ago. Of course, the quote didn't refer to individuals' histories, but to the history of projects and specifically, the effort to go from one current world to another, better future world. It hasn't happened yet, but another phrase from way back then was keep on pushing or, even more time bound, keep on trucking. At any rate, our no Bosses sequence of episodes is now nearing its end and in the current sequence, chapter 9 of no Bosses, which was on winning a participatory economy.

Michael Albert:

And that chapter, like the rest, begins with a couple of quotations. First, that chapter has Charles Dickens with an advisory Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities. Maybe Luxemburg read that too. It may sound hokey, but I actually think there is a lot of wisdom in it, supposing that anyone wants to get things achieved. The second quote is from Dylan yes, him again and is part of the lyrics of a whole song which, over the years, I always found, and I still find, uplifting, I have to admit, because of all kinds of association. This song makes me tear up as much as gear up. Oh, the fishes will laugh as they swim out of our path, and the seagulls? They'll be smiling, and the rocks on the sand will proudly stand the hour that the ship comes in and the words that are used for to get the ship confused will not be understood as they're spoken, for the chains of the sea will have busted in the night and will be buried at the bottom of the ocean. We're the ship, folks.

Michael Albert:

And so now we have episode 260, based on chapter 9, and what I suspect will turn out to be a considerable amount of spontaneous commentary on reading it again now for you. So it starts. Is proposing a new economy an academic exercise, or can our proposed vision inspire, orient and inform current activism? Can we, in time, make participatory economics, which we've discussed in recent episodes, no longer a vision but a new reality? I interject. If not, what the fuck are we doing? We have to make this possibility a probability. We can't just play nice, we have to win. The chapter continues. These two questions highlight strategy and what follows. We can at least offer a few thoughts. So first, can our proposed vision matter for tasks we undertake now?

Michael Albert:

Social change activists often debate reform versus revolution, work in a limited present but seek a liberated future. Today modest changes, someday full transformation. But how do we conduct activism for limited gains today, with the personalities and the means that we have immediately available, and yet do so in ways that lead toward a liberated future tomorrow? An answer arises quite naturally from our advocating participatory economics. We can seek reforms but reject reformism. We can fight for change now but galvanize support to win still greater change later. We can acknowledge and work in light of present limitations, but simultaneously we can chart a trajectory to where we wish to go. We want participatory economics beyond capitalism. We want feminism beyond patriarchy. We want participatory polity beyond authoritarianism. We want intercommunalism beyond racism. We want ecological sustainability and internationalism beyond suicidal nightmare. We want to win limited gains now. We want to develop steadily more comprehension of, desire for and commitment toward and mean suited to winning greater gains later.

Michael Albert:

The problem is that our self-evidence stance leaves us having to navigate between a rock and a hard place. The rock is reformism. If our words and actions don't challenge the permanence of basic institutions, our words and actions will enforce their permanence. If we tilt toward reformism, our aims will tilt toward suicidal compromise or sellout. The hard place is delusion. I remember how the chant we Want the World and we Want it Now used to bounce off surrounding skyscraper facades many decades ago. It lifted us. It also made us think reforms were for cowards and sellouts. If we tilt toward ultra-leftism, our prospects will tilt toward holier-than-thou posturing.

Michael Albert:

Too much emphasis on respecting our limited present will preclude escaping our limited present. We must be bold. Too much emphasis on attaining our desired future will preclude gaining a foothold to get moving at all. We must be practical. I interject Do these two approaches exist nowadays? Absolutely they do.

Michael Albert:

There are let's use the label progressive for folks who want to improve social conditions. There are definitely progressive people, then, who sincerely want to reduce and mitigate causes of pain and suffering, who do not, however, address their eyes and their choices to anything beyond sought-after modest changes, and their projects will not likely lead to anything beyond those sought-after modest changes or even sustain those Fight the good fight but in the end succumb to injustice that persists. That's reformism. And there are definitely progressives who sincerely want to attain a new, fundamentally better world via major, transformational, revolutionary change, but who see fighting for anything short of that as unworthy. They want the world and they want it now, like my generation once did. The thing is, they are unlikely to advance even modest changes and have a tendency to appear, and sometimes even become, callous toward the needs of real people, actively seeking to win higher wages, affirmative action, more wind and solar, abortion rights, and on and on.

Michael Albert:

The chapter continues the solution take manageable, immediate steps, but conceive and implement those steps in a trajectory conceived to reach our desired future. Suppose we seek to increase the minimum wage we say we want nay, we deserve $15 an hour. We speak, write, chant and focus unswervingly on the new minimum wage. We create ties, connections and means to exercise pressure to raise sufficient costs and fears among elites that they relent rather than risk greater losses. We mobilize, they buckle Good. We win $15 an hour as a new minimum wage, but we win without any notion that we should persist after we win. We don't raise long-term vision. We win, but we don't connect our campaign to other aspects of a full program. We win and we go home. We win and our words and, ironically and sadly, our acts have actually ratified the idea not just that many people should have a still ridiculously low minimum income, but that there should be a minimum income at all. I interject. That is the reformist approach. Basically, at best, win and go home. The prize is the immediate demand, nothing more. We take the existing systems, permanence for granted. The chapter continues.

Michael Albert:

A second way to approach the same situation is to not fight for such a demand at all. We claim that such a demand will ratify the powers that be. We say it will fail to seek a new world, it will be co-opted, we will be co-opted. So we take to the streets. We are outrageous and committed and courageous. We demand the world now. We look good, we sound good. We are full throttle. We learn nothing lasting. We build nothing lasting. We win nothing lasting. I interject. That is called the ultra-left approach all or nothing. It tends to become dismissive of real people's, real concerns. In our own eyes it is we are the way At its worst it is. Look at us we are revolutionaries. Your agendas are worthless because they are not yet our agenda.

Michael Albert:

The chapter continues. We need a third approach, different than reformism, but also different than entirely abstaining from the minimum wage campaign, from winning reforms. So in the wages case, we seek the $15 an hour wage. We simultaneously convey a larger conception of what is a just, worthy and warranted income consistent with our ultimate aims, for example, that people should receive income for how long they work, for how hard they work and for the onerousness of the conditions under which they work, but not for property, power or even output. Our proposed vision informs our chosen words and deeds. We mobilize, but more deeply, we organize. In this third approach, we seek $15 an hour as a worthy advance. We also seek it as a step toward fully equitable remuneration. We build ties, connections and means to exercise pressure that can win now. We also foreshadow, prepare for and facilitate means to win more later.

Michael Albert:

These three contrasting approaches exist for almost any campaign one might initiate. We can demand gains, talk entirely about the immediate benefits and go home and celebrate their attainment or mourn their loss, which tilts toward minimalist reformism. We can forego even seeking immediate, limited gains on grounds they aren't all we want, which tilts toward maximalist ultra-leftism. Or we can seek gains to attain and celebrate very meaningful advances now, but at the same time prepare to seek much more and advance much further later. It turns out that, beyond fostering hope and allowing a positive tone, our proposed vision has immediate worth precisely to the extent that it inspires, orients and informs this third immediate plus long-term approach, whether regarding property, decision-making, jobs, income or allocation or gains in other spheres of life I interject For decision-making, for example, we might have campaigns around true democracy in the electoral system, or around participation in workplaces, or around our participation in budgets called participatory budgeting, and at the same time, in those campaigns, we might reasonably and effectively, and to make them non-reformist, spell out what we want in the long run and form organizations designed to last, not to go home when we win, designed to proliferate and to connect with other organizations and other projects and campaigns.

Michael Albert:

For jobs, for example, we might have a campaign to improve work conditions, to improve the circumstances under which we do our work, but at the same time we might talk about how work is organized and how it shouldn't be organized in such a way that some people are stuck with jobs that disempower them. Some people are stuck with circumstances that reduce their connections to others and reduce their skills and knowledge and leave them exhausted while other people run the show. We can, in other words, seek immediate winnable gains now and do it in a way that makes more gains, bigger gains, winnable later For income. It's the same thing as mentioned earlier regarding the $15 minimum wage example. So the point here is we don't have to be reformist and we don't have to be ultra-leftist. We can navigate those two opposed and equally flawed approaches to winning change.

Michael Albert:

The chapter continues Next. Consider a related situation that is less well discussed than the need to avoid reformism and to avoid ultra-leftism, before which pretty much the same type of thinking, albeit in a more contextually specific condition or circumstance, applies. Imagine trying to set up a new institution or a movement organization meant to embody the values of a desired future while it serves various purposes and needs in the present. A new but closely related choice between a rock and a hard place arises. On the one hand, we would want our new project to work well in the present, with current people, tools and sources of support. On the other hand, we would want our new project to embody new values, aims and structures, and even to have new features consistent with and able to melt into a better future. Too much attention to fitting the constraints of present circumstances and we might build a lasting project which functions but which would, however, so lose touch with its ultimate goal that the benefits of its successful establishment would be undercut by its failure to sufficiently plant the seeds of the future in the present. Too much fielded to the ideal goal, on the other hand, and we might be true to our desires but not progress or perhaps not even survive in existing circumstances.

Michael Albert:

I interject Do these problems exist? Sure they do. People set up a food co-op or a media project or a store or whatever, and over time, because it relies on the goodwill of its participants to maintain its progressive practices, but utilizes methods that are taken for granted in people's current experience and are prevalent all around, it becomes barely distinguishable from other commonplace efforts that have no political intent, a few control outcomes, others follow orders. Competition for income starts to rule choices, or it starts out and basically ignores how things currently are and acts as though future aims can be immediately implemented, even against and without attention to people's habits and tendencies. And so it implodes as people are unable to fulfill its embrace.

Michael Albert:

The chapter continues by way of an example. Consider a hypothetical large-scale media project. Suppose the stated aim is one to provide needed news and analysis. Two, to develop new institutional relations able to define and sustain a new kind of journalism and hopefully spread. Three, on both counts, to plant the seeds of the future in the present, while we enhance the amount and quality of needed news by virtue of providing a more amenable venue for its creation.

Michael Albert:

How might those initially involved in such a project proceed? First, they would have to employ people who are used to working in and have various habits and expectations molded in the present, that's, who's available. Likewise, they would have to pay bills, for example. Those involved would need income for their laborers, and income to pay for. Other expenses would also need to be met, such as rent, equipment, fees for services, research costs and so on. Questions would arise when should funds come from? How should relations among people involved in the project be structured? What the vision of labor and what mode of making decisions should be employed? Likewise, how would the new institution interface with already existing alternative media organizations, or with its own audience, or with other institutions such as movements in the government?

Michael Albert:

For each choice, the general quandary would be how does one navigate between one, the need to establish the institution in the present, with all the present constraints, and to keep it functioning at a sufficient scale to accomplish more than the associated writers and other workers could accomplish if they were dispersed among other existing mainstream and alternative institutions, such as those that they already had jobs at before embarking on the new project. And two, the need to have the new project take shape and operate consistently, with its longer run aims, rather than the project persisting but losing its identity and thus its merit in the processes of persisting. This conundrum should be very familiar to anyone who has created a new institution and or worked at or interacted with them. It defines many hard choices whose resolutions depend greatly on views of what the implications of those possible choices are likely to be. So take, for example, starting the news outlet the Intercept or Telosor English, each not overly long ago or, for that matter, starting Z communications years earlier or, much more recently, starting Revolution Z that you're listening to, or, most important, to going forward, starting new efforts.

Michael Albert:

I interject. The point is doing this on its face. Trying to do such things is good, it is very good, but it is possible to do these things with all the goodwill in the world and fail because either A there isn't enough difference, there isn't enough attention to the project maintaining its values, maintaining its agenda, because there is so much attention to the project succeeding in context of current norms and relations and expectations, or failing because the project tries to be so new, so innovative, so different, so perfect that it loses track of people's current real needs. They're in families, they have limited incomes, they have limited time, they have expectations and ways and habits about how to interact with others and by being oblivious to all that, all that can drag it to a halt. It's not academic to solve these problems. It's not easy to solve these problems. The only way to do it, ultimately, is to do it in practice.

Michael Albert:

The chapter continues. A first decision that would arise, for example, is should we take advertisements? This example again is in the realm of creating a new institution, in this case a media institution. The argument for doing so is simple we need funds with which to pay bills. The argument against doing so depends on how we see the situation. We might feel that advertisements are bad only because they have bad content. In that case we might think we shouldn't advertise cigarettes, but it would be fine to advertise good books, or even just books generally To pay bills. We should advertise what is not immediately horrible in its specific content and what won't corrupt our thinking and lead via a slippery slope to violating our values.

Michael Albert:

I interject there was a magazine that was created, I think maybe early 70s, mid 70s, I won't go into all the details, but at a particular point in time the president of North Korea at the time, Kim Il-sung, offered the magazine, in fact, a huge sum of money, if I remember right. If it would give its final page, the back cover and the inside back cover, for editorials written by Kim Il-sung, the rest of the magazine could be just as it is. They turned it down. They turned it down because they thought that while the money would be fantastic and you know you can do bad things with money, but you can also do good things with money and they trusted themselves basically to do good things with it. And the presence of that odious reality on the back page and inside back page, the back cover, in the inside back page would require them to rationalize and to bend their perceptions in such a way that it would pervert the whole project so they didn't take the money. That's the kind of decision, in a very stark and unusual case, that can arise. It's the kind of a decision that exists depending upon how one views the implications of advertisements in taking advertisements. Okay, the chapter continues.

Michael Albert:

A different analysis might say advertisements are intrinsically bad. They sell the attention of our users to corporations. Our audience becomes our product. Our content becomes a mere means of attracting that audience. And before long we seek to attract not just any audience but an audience with means to buy the commodities advertised. The, as we choose, may for a time seek to sell only nice items, but we are really selling an audience to the corporations who buy our ad space and in so doing we compromise our whole media project and as an added debit to advertise ratifies the practice of deception.

Michael Albert:

Such a discussion always occurs in some context. For example, should we employ other means to accrue funds? We might try to raise donations from users, but that entails that we repeatedly ask for them, which can undercut outreach and degrade those who are asking and those who are being asked. It can make it seem we care most or even only about money, as we write to people over and over again about money. On the other hand, if we can keep those ill effects to a minimum, to seek user donations might allow self sufficiency, while it raises pressures on our media project to meet audience needs rather than to sell audience attention to companies. But what if our audience can't or won't donate sufficiently?

Michael Albert:

What about taking funds from large money donors, whether foundations are individuals? On the plus side, this can generate large chunks of cash facilitating many useful endeavors. On the downside, this can generate dependence on sources who may, in time, impose implicit or explicit constraints on content. They tell you your values are nice, here's a big donation. We take it. We become dependent on that level of help. They then add don't go too far or you will lose our support. We can't afford to lose it. The threat they raise need not be explicit to do major damage. I interject.

Michael Albert:

Maybe another stark example. There was a revolutionary periodical again back in, I think, the late 60s and first quite some time, and it was getting money from a large donor. And when the large donors funds started to come in, the magazine upped its operations, increased its staff and so on, as you might expect. But having done that, it now needed those donations and the large donor would put pressure on and ultimately the large donor said you know what I no longer like your content, no more donations. And the magazine folded quite quickly. You can see the kinds of dangers that are implicit. The chapter continues.

Michael Albert:

Consider a still more complex issue. We wish to create a media project, a political organization or whatever else. How will we make decisions? How will we organize our work? Analogous calculations to those described above arise. As initiators, we will need to make decisions and organize the task composing our work. Any organization has to do both. Of course, it has to turn itself into an organization with methods and procedures and even rules. But we may wonder should we do it in ways that are familiar from current society and that match people's prior experiences and expectations and, for that matter, the expectations and experiences of donors? Or should we do it in new ways that attempt to move toward what we prefer for a new society but that differ greatly from people's prior experiences and expectations. The former approach is easier. We know that in at least some respects it works. It will be easier to get funding for the familiar. It will better fit people's prior habits.

Michael Albert:

A hierarchical approach to decisions, for example, gets decisions made. A corporate division of labor in which some folks monopolize empowering tasks while others do purely rote tasks gets considerable work done. Donors will understand those choices. So will potential employees. In contrast, to employ self-managed decision-making that apportions to all workers that say proportionate to their involvement will diverge from people's prior experiences. It will require training and experiment. It will alienate potential large donors Even more so if you change around your whole division of labor as compared to what people are used to. It will seek unexpected and unfamiliar participation from some folks and strip considerable authority from others. Similarly, arranging tasks into jobs so that everyone does a comparable balance of empowering work and therefore also of disempowering work will require a kind of involvement that people are not used to and which many may initially find quite foreign and some may consider burdensome.

Michael Albert:

I interject another stark example At Southend Press at one time. This example is sort of from the opposite direction. At Southend Press at one point there was a staff member who came to a staff meeting and asked for some time to present a concern, and his concern was basically he didn't want to make decisions. He didn't want to have a balanced job in which he had some empowering activity and some disempowering activity, which meant he had tasks that he was responsible for, and some of those tasks involved making decisions and taking initiative and so on, whereas others were basically carrying out, wrote things that were understood by all. What he said was he didn't want to keep doing that. He felt stressed out doing it. He didn't feel that he was. I even remember how he put it. He said some people are eagles and I'm not. I prefer to move closer to the ground. I prefer the more defined and Indeed wrote kinds of activities.

Michael Albert:

Why do I have to endure, suffer the, the difficulty of Accommodating the fact that you all seem to want these what you call balanced jobs and self-management? And he had a case because he said you believe in self-management, but you're not listening to me. I'm telling you I don't like it, I want to work this other way. Well, the answer was when it was put forth. It's not that we're not listening to you. We hear you, we know you would prefer that and you know what that's available all over society. What you're looking for is easily had out there, but what we're looking for is a workplace that is self-managed, in which everybody has jobs that are empowering. Everybody has stature, everybody has a sense of efficacy, and we don't want to lose that so that you can have something that's readily available all over the place and he left. You can see how there can be difficult things. It was difficult. Everybody liked everybody. It was hard. The chapter continues.

Michael Albert:

The argument for the plant the seeds of the future in the present option of self-management and a new division of labor is three-fold. It's not trivial. First, the choice won't ratify existing relations that our long-term aims should want to transcend. This is sort of the point of of the cause of ultra leftism we don't want to ratify what exists. Second, while the choice will risk new kinds of problems due to clashing with old habits and expectations and horrifying big donors, it will also allow new kinds of benefits due to facilitating diverse opinions and better developing and utilizing All participants talents. The idea here I interject is that Instead of having a subset of the workforce, of the staff of the organization Contributing way less than it's capable of. It will get what people are capable of from everybody. Third, there would be positive effects on a media institutions or a movement organizations, products and outreach. This last is maybe the subtle one.

Michael Albert:

Consider an analogy why should a media institution reject sexist or racist structures in its own organization? First, we easily agree to do so will not ratify, much less in force, what needs to be rejected. Second, we also can easily agree doing so will allow new kinds of benefits, such as contributions from folks who would otherwise Be alienated and diminished. And third, almost as obviously, if a media institution or movement Organizing project is internally racist or sexist, over time its ability to address issues of race and gender Outside itself will steadily deteriorate. It will become Steady harder to even perceive, much less critique, those flaws outside of one's work when one is daily enacting and abetting those flaws inside one's work.

Michael Albert:

Incorporate racist and sexist features Rationalized. Doing so lose capacity to perceive much less opposed racism and sexism. The analogy is that the same insights hold for having internal authoritarian decision-making or corporate divisions of labor. If you incorporate authoritarian and corporatist features rationalized, doing so Lose capacity to perceive much less opposed authoritarianism and classism in broader society. The rationales that justify our internal choices Will infect our values and perceptions and in turn will inhibit and even obliterate prospects for media coverage or organizing work. To fully properly address power in class, I interject. Can we see that phenomenon the world around us? I think we can. I think we can see that when media organizations have a corporate division of labor and have decision-making procedures that elevate a few while subordinating, even with a smile, the many, it becomes hard to see and perceive and Critique and rail against those same features out in the world. Take a look, take a look at products of organizations which have those Current type relations. Look at their product, look at their written material, look at their editorial policies and see how, see how much attention there is to to organizational decision-making, to self-management and especially to the class division between Coordinators and workers, the class division that is justified by saying that those who are doing the empowering jobs are better.

Michael Albert:

The chapter continues. So we deduce that for a media experiment or a movement organization, the issues we are considering become how do we raise finances, how do we make decisions, how do we define jobs and what are our rules for our work? And what does it stake as twofold? Will editorial content or outreach organizing be compromised by our internal choices? Will the institution structure itself not only survive but also serve as a positive model? It can be hard to judge choices people make about such matters from outside the constraints and pressures they face, but it ought to be possible to arrive at broad guidelines for such judgments.

Michael Albert:

Win reforms, but avoid reformism. Win reforms that benefit folks now move toward ultimate goals and also prepare and inspire folks to seek further changes later. Do the same regarding not just demands and how we fight to win them, but also when constructing our own organizing projects, organizations, movements and new ways of conducting daily life. Live, learn, love and otherwise Sustain and enrich all lives today while also seeking a better world for tomorrow. We come to another big question Can we in fact win a new economy, a new society and a new world? The only definitive answer to this question Will be to do so.

Michael Albert:

Final proof can only, by definition, emerge from practice. But since we must win, because the cost of not winning is simply too much to even contemplate, there is a sense in which the question is moot. We try, we don't wait on proof that action will succeed, and in fact action will often seem to fail, but then we try again until final success. But is this only a recurring act of faith? Is it only a wild, recurring leap over around and through doubt? And Is this leap based only on fear of failure and rejection of failure and not on a real sense of the possibility of success? It could be thus. Indeed, I think for transformative energies it often has been thus.

Michael Albert:

But I don't think it should be thus for two reasons. First, it is too much to ask. Without a sense of direction toward victory, too many people will balk at the outset or will fall away in time. Fighting against the powers that be, the large, powerful, unethical powers that be, is not easy, and so it involves sacrifices, and it involves commitments, and it involves hard work, and over time one can become disenamored of all of that if one doesn't have well eyes on the prize a direction toward victory, a big dose of reason, commitment, and not just courageous commitment, will greatly strengthen recruiting and member sustainability. Second, a reason commitment based on a formulated path forward, with its features conceived and repeatedly tested, with its methods refined and repeatedly improved, with its structures implemented and repeatedly enhanced, is a commitment that has direction and is strategic, creative and intelligent, and not only courageous, not only obstinate. For these reasons, an effective project for a better society will need a compelling vision of key features of the sought economy, polity, kinship, culture, ecology and international relations it desires. It will also need a conception of how to win that we continually update from our growing experience and that perpetually gives us not just courage but also reason to believe in and guidance to attain our own futures. A clarification, however, may be needed To win a new world does not occur in a flash.

Michael Albert:

There will not be a day we are living in an old world and the next day we are living in our sought new world. Even just considering economy, even just considering a new division of labor and a new allocation system, these changes will come unequally and will take time. Full, balanced jobs won't appear in a flash in all firms at once. The dwindling old corporate division of labor, under siege and saddled by restraints and mitigating structures, will for a time exist alongside steadily maturing new balanced job complexes. And the same will hold for participatory planning and markets, in fact for all features. For some time, participatory planning will persistently develop and spread, while markets are forcefully restrained and replaced. We call this period of militant restraint of the old with vigorous construction of the new transition.

Michael Albert:

What is most critical about participatory economic transition is that, with the elimination of private ownership and during the forging of new relations, the corporate division of labor and markets are not considered solutions but are deemed problems to overcome. They are targets of struggle, they are targets for elimination. Without that guiding agenda, the transformation of economy would preserve and elevate the coordinator class above workers. It would put a new boss in place of the old boss. It would be coordinatorist, but deeming the corporate division of labor and markets as residual targets to fully replace participatory economic transition will persist until it attains classlessness. In short, we need to understand and share where we are now and what structures and obstacles around us, as well as in ourselves, enforce current reality. We need to envision and share the core features of where we want to wind up. We need to forge and re-forge, share and re-share and traverse and re-traverse a steadily updated path from what we have to what we want. That was how the chapter in no Bosses ended, but I would like to add some before we conclude this episode.

Michael Albert:

Consider recurring activists, surges, surges, surges. There are countless ones that we could name, but some of the big ones are some of the biggest are the new left of the 60s, the no Nukes movement, numerous anti-war movements, the civil rights movement, black Lives Matter, the feminist movement, the Me Too movement. Of late, the Occupy movement, the current surge in labor activism, the current movement of support for Palestinians, who are facing some of the most god-awful crimes against humanity that we have seen. In response to these things, periods of mobilization, we can call it. People become aroused, people become impassioned, they join in activities, they're mobilized, and so we have activists and large numbers of activists. At various times it can be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions among those periods mentioned just now, and the issue becomes, or an issue becomes, that's associated with the path to a better world. How do we get to that? How do we get to a better world? How do the people who become involved, who become impassioned, who engage in activities, what is it that causes some to stay and others to leave?

Michael Albert:

What does the movement have to do to move people from mobilizers to organizers? What does it have to do to move people from temporarily involved, temporarily committed, to forever committed? What is the difference, if you will, between becoming active and then, sometime later, largely inactive and becoming active and then later totally committed. What is the barrier to that happening and what facilitates that happening? What are the implications for our surges, our projects, our movements, of this issue? Well, I think they're pretty clear.

Michael Albert:

If things start and then decline and that keeps happening, then we're on a perpetual treadmill of courageous, sincere activism, followed by falling off, arising again, falling off again, with the basic structures of repression sometimes mitigated somewhat, but not going away. In order for them to go away, they have to be beaten, and for them to be beaten, the movement has to be more sustained. The opposition has to be more committed, more understanding of what's required. So what is it that prevents that for a great many people and causes it for others? One way to look at this question and I think it's wrongheaded, but I can't prove that is to say well, they're different people. The people who join and later leave have one type of personality, one type of disposition, one type of genetic makeup even. And the people who stay, hell, maybe it's because they're masochists. At any rate, they are different. So the difference is in the people and really there's nothing the movement can do about that.

Michael Albert:

Another way to look at the problem is to say well, it's the response to threats, it's a response to distractions, so it's response to threats of repression and acts of repression Many leave or it's a response to distractions that are offered, you know, jobs, higher pay, circumstances that aren't as demanding, and so on. Again, I think this way of looking at it I'm not saying it has nothing to do with it, but I'm saying it's not very useful it doesn't help us much because, again, this is now the episodic nature of our activism, being a function of what the other side is doing, and the other side is not going to stop doing those things. So we would have episodic activism from now until whenever. So what we have to find is something we can deal with, and it seems to me that means looking at our movements and asking is there something about our movements, the way we organize, the way we act, the way we treat others, the way we treat each other, all these kinds of things? Is there something about that which causes people to get tired, to leave, to not feel a sense of loyalty and efficacy and empowerment by virtue of being in our movement? Why is it?

Michael Albert:

To make this really stark and probably get myself into some trouble, then I suspect that, on the right, in other words, let's call it Trumpism and Trumpers in the United States. What they're getting out of being MAGA is precisely, at least in considerable part, a sense of efficacy, a sense of belonging, a sense of even comradeship, which is sustaining them and keeping them and mobilizing them and even turning some of them into organizers. And on the left, maybe there's not so much and maybe it doesn't exist as long. This might not be pleasant to hear, but look, if it's true, then we need to do something about it and the good news is we would be able to.

Michael Albert:

We would be able to look at movement practices and say, okay, what's going to make it the case that when somebody joins, because they've become aroused by the hope that surfaces when there is a new left, or when there's a no nukes movement, or when there's Occupy, or when there's Me Too the hope coming from the fact that there's lots of activity and lots of activism, and now, with supporting Palestine and opposing as if they should even need to be said, but it does it's opposing genocide that can transform that energy into sustained energy.

Michael Albert:

I know at the beginning nobody thinks they're not going to be there a year later or five years later, but we know historically that the Great Bulk won't be there a year later or five years later, unless we change something. We're doing so, along with all the other stuff that we've talked about, let's see what is it, what's the need for reform and revolution? Our internal structures, our organization, how we make decisions, and so on. I think somehow we have to think about the culture of the left, the dynamics of the left, in light of the need for the left to be very, very sticky, to retain its members rather than bouncing them away. So, that said, this is Mike Albert signing off until next time for Revolution Z.

Finding the Balance
Starting a Progressive Institution Challenges
Media and Organizational Decision Making
Sustaining and Mobilizing Activism in Movements
Reform and Revolution in Left Culture