My Resoc Interview
By Ann Ferguson at Oct 21, 2009
1. At a public talk someone asks you, "okay, I understand what
you reject, but I wonder what are you for? What institutions
do you favor that will be better than what we have for the economy,
polity, gender, race, ecology, or whatever you have vision for?
I favor an economy organized around economic cooperatives wherever possible that allows economic democracy for the workers and a social democracy which organizes public school and government and criminal justice sectors as well as nationalized banks that provide capital to the coop businesses, making decisions based on policies decided by elected representatives. I also favor town meetings and social council-style participatory democracies that have direct control of policies dealing with such public issues as health care policy (for a national socialized system, but for local decisions about placements of clinics,etc), schooling, municipal issues of public safety, water, garbage etc. There should be a gender and racial parity system in place in all political parties and representative political posts in the government that would require that there be a proportional number of candidates consonant with the percentages of women and racial minorities present in the society (an Affirmative Action system with teeth). Re representative government I favor a mulit-party Parliamentary system over the present American two-party system and some sort of voting process that would allow minor party preferences to count in first ballots.
The waged economy should be organized so that everyone, whether they have children or not, are expected to spend half of their work week doing paid labor and the other half doing caring labor of some sort (e.g. caring for young children or elders or working as an orderly in a hospital). Parental and community cooperatives doing childcare, elder care, etc would be encouraged and funded. Gay and lesbian partnerships would be acknowledged by either marriage or civil union right, including the right to adopt children, that are identical to those available to heterosexual couples, and the US system would change if possible to one of governmental civil unions, with marriages being reserved as a religious ceremony for churches.
Racial and ethnic segregation that leads to inferior neighborhoods and schools would be broken down by forms of community reparation that involves government payments in compensation for the pernicious inequalities due to slavery and colonial takeover of indigenous populations' lands that are designed to bring housing, schools and services including job possibilities up to the level of the dominant racial populations. There would be no national religion or prayers in either government or schools, and history would be taught from a multicultural perspective that acknowledged the past harms of imperialism, colonialism, cultural forms of domination such as Christian persecution of Jews, Muslims etc., sexism and heterosexism as well as the accomplishments of those oppressed under such systems.
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 am a feminist, queer and peace activist. I am working for affordable housing in my town, and I do solidarity work with trade union struggles, anti-imperialist struggles, including solidarity with people in Central America harmed by US wars of low-intensity there, particularly in Nicaragua, the anti-corporate globalization solidarity economy (of coops, fair trade, food sovereignty, etc) and anti-racist struggles. I do it because I feel I am a part of the greater human wholes that these struggles are trying to empower, and that my freedom as a woman, lesbian, former worker (I am now retired) and world citizen depends on challenging the systems of oppression that are challenged in these struggles. My goals are to continue to write on issues of justice and solidarity and to continue to find a way to focus some energy into practical activist work, as well as to find time to love and care for my partner, children and grandchildren.
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?
I really don't know. It would depend on its leadership (representative of my various concerns), statements of principle and its first actions, including the atmosphere of real horizontal empowerment that is generated in its first conference(s).
Place your answer, here, please...
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 not? If yes, can you say what, very
roughly, you think some of the implications would be for an
organization you would favor?
Yes, I believe in the important of pre-figurative values in present organizations, that need to empower their diverse members in their own priorities and self-identities, whether man, woman, trans, lesbian, gay, intersexed, racial or ethnic minority, religions affiliation, immigrant status, class of origin, educational level. This is a very tough thing to do. The organization would need to find a process that alternated between participatory processes, caucuses etc and majority decision making (in order to be an effective political force it could not try to make decisions by consensus!) It would need to try to prioritize nonviolence as a political strategy whenever possible.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others
did not answer it?
I happened to have a bit more time today than usual and I also think the questions are well framed, important and relatively simple to answer in a short time.