My Resoc Interview
By Andrej Grubacic at Nov 24, 2009
1. At a public talk someone asks you, "okay, I understand what you reject, but I wonder what you are for? What institutions do you want that you think will be better than what we have, for the economy, polity, gender, race, ecology, or whatever you think is central to have vision for?
I advocate participatory economics. I believe that this particular strand of libertarian socialist economy is particularly well placed to answer some of the central questions brought to the fore by the contemporary capitalist crisis. It is important to note that participatory economics belongs to the libertarian socialist tradition, a tradition that brings together, by way of a creative synthesis, the most inspiring elements of the anarchist and marxist traditions. It is even more important to note that participatory economics is not just economics, in a sense that you cannot have a fully developed economic program isolated from all other facts and facets of social life. We need strategy and program, and our program needs to be total, or, to use that popular new age word, as i do live in California now, "holistic." My particular focus is education, and I favor participatory education, which i see as an educational program for a free and participatory society.
2. Next, someone at the same event asks, "Why do you do what you do? That is, you are speaking to us, and I know you write, and maybe you organize, but why do you do it? What do you think it accomplishes? What is your goal for your coming year, or for your next ten years?
I think that my answer would have to be biographical, related to my life and times in Yugoslavia. I grew up in a family of people who believed in social revolution, who were revolutionaries themselves, building a new socialist society of self-managed Yugoslavia. Now, this project has been inadequate, in so many ways, but I do need to stress that I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family, and specific political culture, that nurtured this feeling of responsibility and social commitment. I have seen that revolution is, indeed, possible, and that, contrary to the words of that famous French academic, we are not "sentenced to live in the world that we live in."
3. You are at home and you get an email that says a new organization is trying to form, internationally, federating national chapters, etc. It asks you to join the effort. Can you imagine plausible conditions under which you would say, yes, I will give my energies to making it happen along with the rest of you who are already involved? If so, what are those conditions? Or - do you think instead that regardless of the content of the agenda and make up of the participants, the idea can't be worthy, now,or perhaps ever. If so, why?
Of course. I am a member of two exciting organizations, Industrial Workers of the World, or the wobblies, and of Workers Solidarity Alliance. I think that today, in the United States, there is a serious need for a serious revolutionary organization. I tend to agree with a specific orientation sometimes referred to as "social insertion," and explained as militant involvement in wider peoples struggles, that is within movements and experiences of people who live outside of the comfortable "resort-activist" squats and conferences.
4. Do you think efforts to organize movements, projects, and our own organizations should embody the seeds of the future in the present? If not, why? If yes, can you say what, very roughly, you think some of the implications would be for an organization you would favor?
Yes. Revoutionary organization of new type would have to do away with bureaucratic socialism of the past, and to embrace a prefigurative, directly democratic approach to its own development. I was always attracted to the idea of applying balanced job complexes, a concept actually coming from the body of thought and experience of participatory economics, to the organization of a revolutionary political group. It is crucial to avoid what Castoriadis used to call political division of labor between "militants" and "politicos." There is, and there can not be, no such thing as democratic centralism. The organization is either democratic or centralist.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others did not answer it?
I answered this interview because i believe that we need to be talking much more aggressively--and patiently-- about strategy and program, about re-organization of what some optimistically minded people like to call "the left" in the United States -- a political space so fragmented, confused and vision-less that even a chaotic anarchist from the Balkans cannot but feel lost in it!