Assembling the Future
A Comprehensive Online Left "Daily"
[Contribution to the Reimagining Society Project hosted by ZCommunications]
Nothing bests great vision and nothing accounts for great planning like the thing materialized.
What if you could see a progressive or revolutionary left world every day? What if you were in it? What if you could go there with friends, family, acquaintances, even opponents, and pitch in - a land of justice, equality, liberty, social change - whether that be at a left community council or workplace, a learning center or store, a credit union or construction site, a health clinic or park, a mine or play, a strike or celebration?
In other words, what if you could more than see, what if you could enter and work in a comprehensive left land made real, every day? What if everyone could? Does the left have a vision, a plan, a chance? On the one hand, the left has a lot going for it. On the other hand, it doesn't have a comprehensive online daily.
Shouldn't it? Shouldn't and can't and mustn't the left have a comprehensive online daily? Left in structure, creation, production, output? A comprehensive online daily not necessarily of reportage mainly but rather of left views and analyses and other creations, expressions, communications. Why not organize sufficiently to pool vital left work that already exists, though sprinkled far across the internet? Why not organize and transport the left energy and focus that is already existing...into a familiar (and innovative) fullscale format - a left counter to the New York Times and Reader's Digest, to the Washington Post and Time, to the Wall Street Journal and People magazine, to USA Today and Sports Illustrated, to Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, and to even Yahoo and Google (or possibly too a very different left Craigslist). Why not structure, by organized online transporting, a comprehensive counter to the establishment's leading online dailies, monthlies, and hourlies?
The already existing piecemeal mode of left media scattered across hundreds or thousands of sites will no doubt continue. It may even be more efficient, effective, vital in piecemeal fashion than in any possible simultaneous pooling. On the other hand, if the left can't point to merely its own major news and culture daily, what does that say about the capacity of liberatory socialists to provide vision and organization on a major scale, even in the very mode (online) of its gathering here to plan and grow?
A question stares back at me from the screen every day: Why should my ongoing years of left production in fiction, criticism, and art be isolated or de-organized from a comprehensive online "daily"? Why should anyone's - or so much - left work of wide relevance and utility be lost to remote corners, be ever fragmented? What of the liberatory poems, the ones with a left political or cultural edge, from prisoners that cross my desk as coeditor of the essentially unknown Liberation Lit arts and issues journal? (What of the works that cross the desks of other small outlets, or are created there?) What of the first-rate socio-political analyses from Kenya, and from Oceania, and what of the first rate stories of social justice and social change from Canada and Bangladesh, from New York City and Fiji, from Los Angeles and Nigeria soon to be found in Liberation Lit's first anthology? What of the local documenting of social change in the communities from Venezuela, or the dire reports and exposés from Congo? What do I do with those after I base them in an unknown journal? Try to get a faculty member to teach any at a university? Try to place them at some more well known but piecemeal site, with infrequent luck? Instead - shouldn't I, mustn't I simultaneously incorporate such work into a far more visible comprehensive left daily? Shouldn't I be contributing and helping to organize the contributions of others into the various arts/culture/issues sections of a comprehensive online left "daily" that does not now exist? Why not get together?
If there proves too much left material to be functionally organized into a comprehensive left daily, that is, if the thing explodes at the seams, a possible answer -
or immediate or eventual necessity - would be to create regional comprehensive left dailies. Too much left media for one daily cannot be an issue.
Nor can too little. If not enough quality left material of wide scope is thought to exist, the creation of a comprehensive left daily skeleton would still be a good idea. Build it (left), structure it (left), and they will come (left). Even if daily material proves insufficient, the left would at least then have a comprehensive left periodical, of some increasing frequency and growing amplitude.
(All this is predicated on the assumption that some organization(s) could host the daily and provide password-based access to many organized individuals for automated uploading of work into hourly/daily/weekly/monthly sections and delineations - with automated archiving.)
LEFT DAILY DETAILS
Again, in my view, the left needs - the public could benefit greatly by - a comprehensive left online daily. I don't know that it's worth a heroic effort, compared to other needs. However, if smart planning could efficiently marshal already existing energies of activists and their output of analysis and culture to establish and produce what should be a major leading daily in the world - one with the potential to shift consciousness and culture, society and politics - a whole life daily for justice, equality, liberty, then I think such a project, such a vision, such a particular plan would quickly justify itself and could have tremendous repercussions generally, for ongoing liberatory planning and achievements, social change. The revolution is going to have to be televised. That is, it's going to have to be computerized, as audio and video, graphics and text - by the left, organized fullscale. Can the left even point to, let alone grow from, its own comprehensive "daily"?
ZNet, Counterpunch, and other sites basically publish a various handful of articles each day - with limited organization in presentation and archiving, and with zero or limited daily sectioning - and though highly valuable the sites are in this way undernourished and underdeveloped as compared to many establishment sites, such as the major newspapers and magazines; that is, they are not high volume dailies of comprehensive scope.
What might get in the way of many left sites and individuals pooling resources? Initiative, organization, and perhaps minimal effort (at least after start-up)? Why might some people not be willing to work together on such an initiative? Some people, maybe many, aren't willing or don't have time, to upload work themselves. They want to send it to an "editor" to do the uploading for them. This might be a big obstacle: a perceived need for "editors" - actually upload workers. So it's possible and maybe appropriate that those people who are unwilling or unable to upload their own work or their own site's work into a daily/hourly/monthly largely filter themselves out of the project. There probably must be many organizers/recruiters - or a few super Ambassadors - but not necessarily many "editors," or a number of editors but with small responsibilities, who work with few sheer writers.
Such a project would probably (have to) run of its own inertia - that is, it should be a very modest extension of the already existing inertia of current (and future) left web sites or individuals.
How might it work in specific? Take the online journal I co-edit, Liberation Lit. When I receive a left partisan poem or story or visual or critical essay, I would simultaneously post it at Left Daily (or whatever the name) chronologically in the poetry section or fiction section or visuals section or criticism section.... Of if that proves too time consuming, post a title link to the artwork or essay in the appropriate section.
Additionally, one might go the Buzzflash route but from the left of course and post a 1 to 3 sentence left view hyperlinked to a topical but status quo article if there is no time to write a sizeable left analysis of whatever the issue. That left blurb is thus the text of Left Daily, and not the article it links to, the title of which does not appear at Left Daily, just the left-blurb-view of the article.
Sites like ZNet and Counterpunch could upload their daily articles or the linked titles of their articles into appropriate sections or subsections: the articles on the economy into an economics section or subsection. The ones on international relations or on human rights or on other topics into the appropriate sections.
I would think a comprehensive left online "daily" could do worse than to somewhat adopt any of the major establishment dailies' formats for sectioning, archiving, and displaying. Such a left "daily" might do well to be a cross between, say, the daily New York Times and the weekly New Yorker, the daily Guardian and The Atlantic monthly, the intra-daily/hourly Huffington Post and Yahoo. Some types of sections would have to be dropped or shrunk, and new sections would have to be added, such as sections for: Labor, Media Watch, maybe Revolution, and so on.
Some left individuals and groups could make open ended efforts to post whenever they can, while plenty of other individuals and groups will need to post with regularity, be it daily or monthly or any interval in between. Even wide interval posting could contribute a lot: 50 left artists or essayists contributing a single major work even once per year could make for a substantial element of a comprehensive left periodical, when incorporated with the work of more frequent left writers.
What does one need to argue for most, here? Why the need for a comprehensive left "daily" the equal of the combined best establishment dailies, weeklies, and monthlies in scope and volume - and far superior in content, being left rather than status quo oriented? Does one need to argue for a Left Daily's likely and potential impact, significance?
Or does one need to argue for the feasibility of such a project? How it could realistically and readily be achieved, at high quality and great reliability?
In my view, one could argue convincingly at length on these central matters. On the other hand, I suspect that much such argument would be beside the point, that there either exists now or there doesn't and won't exist despite all arguments a critical mass willing to come together to attempt such a project, and thus that time spent in discussion and argument ought to be put toward planning and implementing the plan for a Left Daily - if enough people and organizations come out in support of such a project.
Who might be best situated to host such a project, I have little feel for. Some left site(s) or organization(s) of considerable size, I imagine.
It also seems difficult to say how many people and organizations need to offer active ongoing support and participation to such a project for it to proceed. While dependent on the size and resources of the organizations and people, I would think minimally required would be a host/technical facilitator, and then initially maybe 100 to 300 organizations or individuals willing to organize/supply/write for and otherwise contribute to a Left Daily, though a growing many more would be needed in the not so distant future.
A comprehensive online daily should be structured and operated so that it does not detract from and ideally helps augment the capacity and work of organizations and individuals who make it up.
LEFT DAILY LARGER VISION
The work of many left organizations and individuals is worth a larger platform than has been achieved separately or in small groups - including the works of quite a number of virtually invisible small left organizations and individuals. Even the works of the largest existing left platforms are worth much larger platforms than currently exist.
Concretely and ideally a Left Daily would be a major step in growing the left, and not only in mass. A comp left daily would seem to make likely far greater steps. A global Left Daily should attempt to outgrow itself as quickly as possible, which is to say help stimulate much regional and local work, and affiliate publications, far more than a single global left daily could contain.
A tremendous Left Daily could become a force to be reckoned with by the establishment and could serve as a broad-based progressive or revolutionary agent and model of liberatory popular forces. It could lead to additional organizing capacity and achievements.
Are not the essential seeds, the necessary and sufficient conditions, for a Left Daily to be found in this Reimagining Society Project?
Does the left have a plan, a vision, a strategy? Might the left require a Daily Left - a highly organized and comprehensive online daily far beyond anything currently existing, with all the qualities of weeklies, monthlies, and hourlies - containing sweeping and up-to-the-minute powerful left intelligence and communication, expression and culture? Isn't it time for the left to get together and to grow in this way?