RevolutionZ

Ep 263: Degrowth (and More) 4 Liberation: Shared Strategy

January 07, 2024 Michael Albert Season 1 Episode 263
RevolutionZ
Ep 263: Degrowth (and More) 4 Liberation: Shared Strategy
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Ep 263 of RevolutionZ titled Degrowth (and More) 4 Liberation Shared Strategy, continues on from last episode, this time making a case for the relevance of the 20 Theses for Liberation to moving toward a movement of mutually supportive movements by describing the compatibility of its strategic theses with Degrowth activism. This episode also welcomes observations, comments, dissent, support and elaborations from listeners that can be pursued with myself and with each other via ZNetwork's community Discord channel that is accessible via the link: https://discord.gg/JkZhaFJ4HQ 

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Speaker 1:

Hello, my name is Michael Albert and I am the host of the podcast that's titled Revolution Z. This is our 264th. No, this is our 263rd consecutive episode, and the title is Degrowth and More for Liberation, part 2, strategy. The first part of this two-part sequence was inspired by the multi-authored 20 Theses for Liberation. It urged the need for flexible, continually updated, shared vision able to help unify countless ecological, economic, electoral, judicial, gender, sexual, racial, cultural, anti-war and internationalist activism into a multifaceted, mutually-empowered whole. Cribbing from the 20 Theses, it then proposed some possible visionary commitments that activists, projects, organizations and movements might continually discuss, refine and correct to achieve such shared, continually updated vision as we navigate our future activism. Well, okay, suppose an international movement of movements that favors fundamental shared vision convenes. Would its participants then say that we face an all-or-nothing endeavor? Would we chant we want the world and we want it now? Would our flexible, regularly updated, shared vision cause us to believe that to seek anything less than our whole vision would be worthless? More precisely, would sharing a core, flexibly updated vision cause us to think that we must first attain a new economy, a new polity, a new everything, or tipping points brought on by the old economy, old polity and old, everything would guarantee climate, income and fascistic catastrophe. Would a shared vision cause us to say that unless we attain fundamental change all at once, we will drown or burn to oblivion? Would we say that to demand anything less than everything is to sell out? Well, no, hopefully, advocates of shared vision would not say any of that. Hopefully, we would tirelessly seek a new world, but also understand the difficulty and the duration that attaining a new world will entail. Hopefully, with shared broad vision, we would know that the effort to avoid climate catastrophe, resource catastrophe, income, gender and racial catastrophe, as well as fascist catastrophe, can't wait until after we have won a new society. Hopefully, we would commit to winning comprehensive fundamental change, but not proclaim win everything now or win nothing ever. Hopefully, we would instead proclaim win enough now to avoid catastrophes, then win more and more and more until we have won a fundamentally transformed, newly civilized and newly ecologically desirable world.

Speaker 1:

But in light of the 20 Theses visionary proposals, or anything that arises from anything like them, and also in light of knowing that attaining fundamental change will take longer than the time available to avoid climate and other catastrophes, and also knowing that social, economic and environmental conditions that affect strategy differ from place to place and from time to time. Can we find sufficient shared strategy to agree to unify a movement of movements? To address that question, the 20 Theses propose that a movement of movements will need Libertory Projects, Organization and movements able to slow catastrophic trends as they also move us toward a new society fully freed from such dangers. Such Libertory Projects, organizations and Movements will need to facilitate learning, preserve lessons, provide continuity and combine and apply energies and insights to win changes and sustained support for members. But are the 20 Theses proposed inclinations sufficiently common to degrowth solidarity, economy, labor, feminist, anti-racist and anti-war practices, among others, to be refined, improved and explicitly shared by wide swaths of the left? The 20 Theses propose that to ward off current catastrophic dangers while we seek to win shared vision will require organizing that counter cynicism with hope, that incorporates seeds of the future and the present, that grows membership and commitment among the class, nationality, cultural, racial, age, ability, sexual and gender constituencies to be liberated and that wins reforms without becoming reformist.

Speaker 1:

The 20 Theses propose that doubt about the possibility of a better society is a primary impediment to people seeking fundamental change. Therefore, to combat cynicism rooted in doubt and to engender informed hope should be a permanent organizing priority. Libertory organizing should always offer and clarify the merit of vision and the efficacy of activism, even as it indicates details and explains the pains that people currently endure and the tenacious obstacles to change people currently confront To arrive at, collectively implement and then monitor that well-considered decisions have been carried out admirably. The 20 Theses propose that libertory organizing should provide extensive opportunities for members to participate in organizational decision-making and in deliberations with others. The Theses propose that libertory organizing should facilitate everyone's participation, including, when possible, offering childcare at meetings and events, finding ways to reach out to those who might be immersed in kinship duties or striving to meet diverse accessibility needs, and aiding those immersed in busy work schedules. Likewise, a libertory organization should provide transparency regarding all actions by its elected or delegated leaders, including placing a high burden of proof on keeping secret any agenda, whether to avoid repression or for any other reason. Libertory organizing should provide a mechanism to recall leaders or representatives who members believe are not adequately representing them, as well as to provide means to fairly, peacefully and constructively resolve internal disputes.

Speaker 1:

To be libertory, the 20 Theses also propose a movement structure and policies should approximate, as well as circumstances and priorities allow, the self-management norm that each member has decision-making influence proportional to the degree they are affected. Libertory movements should be structured so that a minority, who are initially disproportionately equipped with needed skills, information and confidence, can't form a decision-making hierarchy that leaves less prepared members to perpetually follow orders or perform only road tasks. To that end, the 20 Theses proposed Libertory movements should apportion empowering and disempowering tasks to ensure that no individual or sectors of members have a relative monopoly on information or access and no subset of members has disproportionate say, whether due to race, gender, class or other attributes. For example, a Libertory organization should monitor and work to correct instances of sexism, racism, classism, ableism, transphobia and homophobia, not only in society but in itself, including having diverse roles suitable to people with different backgrounds, personal priorities and personal situations. A Libertory organization should guarantee and celebrate members' rights to organize currents or caucuses with full rights of democratic debate, and should allow dissenting views to exist and be tested alongside preferred views. Likewise, a Libertory organization should ensure that national, regional, city and local chapters, as well as different sectors, can respond to their own circumstances and implement their own programs as they choose, so long as their choices do not block other groups equally addressing their own situations or deny the shared goals and principles of the whole organization. Libertory organizing should utilize relevant, flexible shared strategy, guided by continually updated shared vision to consistently progress toward lasting fundamental change. So is it plausible that the 20 Theses proposals are sufficiently common to degrowth and to other potential movement of movement members to help inspire, within and among them, a wide conversation seeking shared strategy to augment shared vision, in turn able to plant the seeds of the future in the present, to enhance hope, to test and refine ideas and to learn lessons. Able to inform strategy and vision, even as we currently combat oppressive race, class, gender, sexual, age, ability and power injustices, could a movement of movements based on continually refined shared vision and strategy constructively address the way its members mutually interrelate? Could it establish internal norms that support building exemplary workplace, campus community and still more encompassing institutions that represent and refine the values the movement of movements offers as liberating alternatives to the status quo that it combats?

Speaker 1:

The 20 Theses strategic proposals are not original, nor are they even unusual. They are, however, rarely so explicitly and collectively enunciated, much less discussed across projects and countries, to arrive at a shared set of strategic goals. The 20 Theses propose that Libertary Organizing should constantly grow membership among the class community, national and gender constituencies that it aims to liberate. It should learn from and seek unity with audiences far wider than its own immediate membership. It should attract and affirmatively empower young people and reach out to and organize people currently critical and even hostile to its aims. It should participate in, support and aid diverse social movements and struggles beyond its own immediate agendas. It should explicitly and respectfully address critical and even hostile constituencies in communities, on campuses and at work. Once widely discussed, refined and shared, is it even hard to conceive of collective, explicit unity about such matters?

Speaker 1:

The 20 Theses propose that Libertary Organizing should also seek, developed, debate, disseminate and advocate truthful news, analysis, vision and strategy among its members and especially in the wider society. It should develop and sustain needed media institutions and means of face-to-face communication, as well as use diverse methods of agitation and struggle, from educational efforts to rallies, marches, demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, occupations and diverse direct action campaigns To win gains and to build ever-wider support. And the 20 Theses propose that, to sustain deeper unity, libertory Organizing should develop new forms of cross-constituency and cross-issue mutuality. New blocks of activist movements, campaigns and organizations should at time take as their shared program not a least common denominator component that they all individually favor, but the totality of their individual priorities, even including their differences, so that each movement, campaign and organization in such a block aids the rest and all thereby become dramatically more powerful. The 20 Theses also propose that Libertory Organizing should seek changes in society for citizens to enjoy immediately, while it also establishes, by its words, methods and the ideas it broaches and broadcasts, a likelihood that all involved will pursue and win more change in the future. So Libertory Organizing should seek short-term changes of its own conception by its own actions, but also seek short-term changes that others conceive by supporting other movements and projects internationally, by country and also locally. It should collectively address climate change, arms control, war and peace, the level and composition of economic output, agricultural relations, education, health care, housing, income distribution, duration of work, work organization, gender roles, education, health care, racial relations, immigration, policing, media law and legislation. Libertory Organizing should seek to win gains by means that reduce oppression in the present and that prepare circumstances, methods and allegiances to win more gains in the future. It should struggle to win reforms in non-reformist ways, following the wise choice of countless past and current activists.

Speaker 1:

The current Theses also propose that Libertory Organizing should embrace a diversity of tactics, suited to diverse contexts, that best serve flexible, resilient strategies informed by shared vision. And they propose that Libertory Organizing should connect efforts, resources and lessons from country to country, region to region, community to community, workplace to workplace, campus to campus and even home to home. As it also recognizes that strategies and tactics suitable to different venues and different times will differ, the strategic proposals of the 20 Theses for Liberation propose all the above as possible commonalities to consider. So are its strategic proposals worth discussing to try to find shared strategic commitments to augment shared vision for a movement of movements. The 20 Theses urge that Libertory Organizing will need to focus not solely on immediate tactical success or failure, such as stopping a meeting, completing a march or winning a vote, but also, and even mainly, on broader matters such as how many new people do we reach, what commitments among participants do we enlarge and what infrastructure do we create. The 20 Theses urge that activists should combine respect for the urgency to address immediate injustices with the patience that major long-term change requires. The 20 Theses advise that a movement of movements should understand that vision-oriented aims, strategy-oriented programs and tactics-oriented plans For each.

Speaker 1:

The 20 Theses propose that the movement of movements should pay close attention to immediate implications to advance today's campaigns, organization and consciousness, but also to implications for long-around prospects for those immediately involved and for those viewing from a distance. More, a movement of movements should provide financial, legal, employment and emotional support to its members so they become steadily better able to participate in and navigate the challenges and sometimes negative effects of taking part in radical actions. Indeed, the 20 Theses propose that successful organizing should substantially improve the current life situations of its members, including aiding their feelings of self-worth, their knowledge, skills and confidence, their mental, physical, sexual and spiritual health, their material conditions and even their social ties and engagements and leisure enjoyments. It proposes that successful organizing should take positive approach in all interpersonal and organizational matters. It should always seek ways forward. Successful organizing should address disagreements and failings, not to cancel others or extol themselves, but to find ways. All can progress successfully. Finally, the 20 Theses propose that Libertory Organizing should understand that we are all different and that successful insights and paths forward are inevitably found, communicated and advocated by some people earlier than by others. Libertory Organizing should welcome such leadership, but also guard against lasting differential empowerment. The 20 Theses thus propose that a key personal contribution of any leading person or group should be to elevate other persons or groups. So do the 7 broad Theses that bear on vision, discussed in Part 1 of the sequence of episodes, and the 13 broad Theses that bear on strategy, discussed here in Part 2, sufficiently accord with degrowth aspirations and, for example, with feminist, anti-racist, solidarity, economics, labor, anti-authoritarian and anti-war aspirations to warrant degrowth, consideration of them and critical intervention to improve them and to then advocate for them. To seek flexible, broad vision and strategy to unify a movement of movements.

Speaker 1:

The 20 Theses for Liberation document says its first goal is to establish that organizers and diverse movements would benefit immensely from a widely shared positive perspective and that we would all benefit from a framework for coalescing around shared vision and strategy to identify shared aims and to leverage collective power to win immediate reforms on a trajectory of societal transformation. But one might reasonably ask, would it even matter if activists were to arrive at such a shared outlook in a country, in many countries or even around the world? Would it matter if people who now mainly address and seek anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, anti-ecocide or anti-war gains were to all share a unifying core vision? Would it matter if, behind calls to enrich and unline struggles in different places and for different aims, there arose a considerable shared strategic perspective. Would it matter if multitudinous environmental, feminist, labor, intercommunalist, internationalist and other efforts each backed the agendas of the rest, so that each showed up for the actions of the rest? If not, then there's no need to think further on sharing these or any other theses for liberation. But if such a shared stance could assist each progressive, radical or revolutionary project, campaign, institution or movement, that could especially align them into a much more effective mutual aid than they now share, then wouldn't it be wise to seek to arrive at shared vision and strategy?

Speaker 1:

The 20 Theses for Liberation asserts that its second goal is to move forward from identifying the need for a widely shared visionary and strategic framework to propose a particular draft framework for collective engagement. Are the 20 Theses flexible, general, rich, common and broad enough to sustain a productive discussion? After refinement and improvement, could they generate shared, effective advocacy? The 20 Theses come from countless movements, experiences and organizations. They were collectively put forth by 31 co-authors and six host organizations and have now accumulated a bit over 300 signers, though of course no signer proposes them as the only possible formulation.

Speaker 1:

For that matter, likely everyone who has signed has concerns or misgivings about at least some of the Theses, indeed across the broad spectrum of progressive and radical movements. There are sure to be initial reactions that the 20 Theses are too long, too specific, lack something favorable, include something unfavorable, go beyond our means, utilize precise or unpreferred terminology or are just something that, no matter how worthy, will likely be ignored. So what we should not stop at, or be stopped by initial doubts, is the Theses assert Quote. Our hope is that these concerns are not a stopping point, but a starting point for undertaking further examination, discussion, debate, improvements and refinements toward a shared basis, however different it might look from this draft, for future activism and organization building. So how might such a final shared viewpoint emerge? By people talking, writing, reading and proposing with one another, in person, in periodicals and in organizations.

Speaker 1:

The result the theses advocate wouldn't be a fixed, unchangeable stance. Shared vision and strategy would instead continually alter in accord with new experiences, contexts and insights. The result would be a continued collective process of refining, adapting and utilizing a unifying framework. It would build and sustain a culture that unites around shared vision and strategy, and isn't that the work of building a movement of movements? It would bring separate agendas into powerful solidarity with one another, and isn't that a path toward victories? And so the question arises yet again would it be productive for de-growth many advocates to participate in such an endeavor? Would de-growth participation be good for the endeavor and thus worth de-growth's attention? And would it also be productive for solidarity, economy, feminist, lgbtq and anti-racist, anti-war, border, prison and justice, electoral organizing, and on and on, to each participate in all their many facets in such an endeavor, and also good for the endeavor that they each do so and thus worth their involvement? That is the hope of this episode of Revolution Z. It is easy to say it won't happen, but shouldn't we all want de-growth advocates, and indeed all advocates of progressive, radical and revolutionary change, including ourselves, to seek unity via seeking sufficient shared vision and strategy to sustain an international movement of entwined, mutually supportive, multi-focused movements?

Speaker 1:

The 20 Theses for Liberation are at ForLiberationorg. These 31 signers are Kali Akunow, michael Albert, renata Avila, ramsey Barude, medea Benjamin, peter Boomer, fintan Bradshaw, jeremy Brecker, erskine Bresnik, noam Chomsky, savina Choudhury, devereux Simmon, mark Evans, andres Grubacek, jason Heckel, kathy Kelly, arash Kholahai, bridget Meehan Sotus, mitralexis, jason Miles, cynthia Peters, john Pilger, matisse Prim, don Rojas, steven Shalom, alexandria Schaener, norman Solomon, cooper Spirling, yanis Farrufakis and Brett Wilkins. At six host organizations are Z-Network, dm25, academy of Democratic Modernity, metacpc, real Utopia and Cooperation, jackson. Even all that and the 300 plus current signers is not enough not nearly, but more is possible, isn't it?

Speaker 1:

Hmm, regarding that question, let's get more general about the situation. Suppose you wake up tomorrow and see hundreds, in fact even thousands, even tens of thousands of progressive, radical and revolutionary projects, campaigns, organizations and movements spread all over the planet about diverse agendas and topics, and you realize that this isn't just tomorrow, but it was there yesterday, last year and for decades. And you wonder why does this bubbling, courageous, insightful, energetic mass of creative, concerned components of struggle not have wait for it more victories? And so you think, okay, what blocks the potential of all this diversity and energy to move together to become a really more impactful movement of movements? And you might think that one obstacle not the only obstacle, but one important obstacle is that across all these components, there is insufficient shared vision, an insufficient shared strategy to have the totality of all this activity see itself as one large and very diverse whole. Not enough shared vision and strategy to sustain the trust and the caring that would be needed to generate the solidarity and especially the mutual aid of a real movement of movements. And so you might think okay, how about let's propose some observations, ideas, hopes let's call it theses that could perhaps prod and inspire that wider rate of activist efforts to engage with one another and together arrive at the needed level of shared vision and strategy to sustain a real movement of movements. Not to arrive at a blueprint, not to arrive at a one size fits all, specific and all encompassing vision and strategy, but to arrive at just enough shared essentials to sustain sufficient needed solidarity, trust and caring to have an extended cross issues, cross countries conversation to constitute a movement of movements. So you have in mind arriving not of the straight jacket of fixed views, not of the timeless static document, but at a living document of evolving views meant to inspire ongoing solidarity but also to change in light of not just the insights of each separate component but especially in light of new experiences and insights rising up from many components, the many projects, campaigns, organizations and movements who all think of themselves as part of something larger that shares serious solidarity.

Speaker 1:

So you work with some others and you try to kick off that kind of document and you send it around to a few folks and then to some more, and if you do that well, then you might establish the 20 Theses for Liberation Project, which is visible at for-liberationorg. And at that point you might wonder, will it slowly but surely catch on and engender sufficient support and innovation to become a desirable living document, able to inspire movements, to aid coming together, to become a real movement of movements? And well, that is where this project has now reached. Perhaps not all signers, but certainly some have gotten to this point. And now we even have begun the process of making the document that is at the address for-liberationorg and to a living document by asking signers to submit suggested improvements. And how many signers are there? So far, a little more than 300.

Speaker 1:

So why is this grist for an episode of Revolution Z, especially since a few months back, I did one where I literally read the document as it then was as an episode? Why am I now reading and I know that's clumsy and I know that's a bit tedious to hear and watch, but I'm urging you to go to the site so you can read it for yourself. The answer for why I'm doing it over and over is because I really believe that one very prominent, powerful, important impediment to a movement of movements in which each component aids the rest, in which each component adds its strength to the rest is insufficient shared vision and strategy. So this is a means to try to propel that, to try to involve all relevant factors, all relevant potential advocates in a discussion. If you agree largely with the contents that summarized earlier in this episode and the prior episode on vision, and fully with the idea that the left all around the world needs more unity, more solidarity and more mutual aid and that attaining those qualities is going to depend on having considerably more shared vision and strategy than we now have to cause us to see ourselves as one big, diverse, solidarist project to sign on and put in some effort to get others to do likewise.

Speaker 1:

So I made a case for relating to the 20 theses in this episode and in part one a couple of weeks ago. I would go out on a limb and bet that you, each person hearing this upon reading them, would agree with the theses and goal of the project as much as many and maybe all of our current roughly 300 signers. So there is a channel in the Z Discord system that is accessible publicly and I invite you now, I urge you, to indicate your reaction to these two episodes and the ForLiberationorg site itself there in that Discord channel Questions, suggestions, criticisms, whatever, and I, and likely others, will converse with you there about the project and the theses. And that said, this is Michael Albert signing off until next time for Revolution Z.

Shared Vision and Strategy for Liberation
20 Theses for Liberation and Vision
Invitation for Feedback on ForLiberationorg Project