My Resoc Interview
By Janet Cherry at Oct 22, 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?
Sustainable, low-consumption, low-resource use economies based on localized networks of cooperative production, exchange and consumption; use of local resources for inputs, diversified local production; limited international trade and travel; international communication through electronic/satellite means. Universal observance of human rights through international law enforced through international legal instruments. International law also to enforce measures necessary to conserve resources, energy, water, atmosphere etc.
Politics/governance through local/(interim national) participatory democratic institutions. Interventionist national state necessary as an interim measure, but accountable to local communities and to international law.
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 do what I do because I believe that human beings do have the potential to organize society in a way which is rational, sustainable, and just; a society that meets the basic needs of all, realizes the potential of all, and realizes the rights of all. I also believe that now, given globalization, economic and resource challenges, it is imperative that some common vision is realized, as the future of human society is in the balance.
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 can imagine plausible conditions – those conditions being that the organization has sufficient credibility and ‘reach’ to have some impact. If it is a tiny group of left intellectuals without influence then it is still valuable, but not as an organization – rather as a forum for sharing of ideas. See my input the ReSoc project which deals with strategy.
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. This is the easy question. The positive implications are that all members/participants will be empowered through be treated as equals, through participating actively, through open debate and criticism, through gender equality and tolerance/acceptance of diversity in relation to gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnic, language or national background, race, class, caste or status. The negative implications are that there may be a temporary loss of efficiency as appropriate mechanisms for participatory decision-making are constructed and tested. But as it is likely that many participants will already have some experience in participatory democracy, it may be easier than we think.
The other implication of true internationalism is the diminishing of the power of the warmongers and arms traffickers.
On our own turf, the implications are positive in terms of practices of non-aquisitiveness, non-accumulation, sharing of access to resources, low-consumption lifestyles, conservation of resources, observance of human rights and of the rights of all sentient beings, reduction in cruelty, reduction in hunger, abuse of women and children etc. Greater individual freedom, creativity, productivity.
In fact, there is no way we will be able to realize our goals, of building a participatory economy, polity and society, if we do not practice these within our own organizations and our own lives.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others did not answer it?
I answered because this is really the greatest challenge of our age – to envision and construct a new form of social, economic and political organization which is rational, just and sustainable.
I think (but don’t know) that others didn’t answer because they are cynical about the possibility of consensus around such a vision; or because they are trapped in narrow interests and do not care about the ‘bigger picture’.