My Resoc Interview
By Michael Lowy at Nov 10, 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 don’t think one should project some rigid blueprint for future institutions. People will work out new institutions as struggles develop, and new emancipatory and revolutionary experiences take place. At most, one can suggest some general principles that one would like to inspire future economic and political arrangements. The basic principle, for me, is democracy : people themselves must decide, about politics, and about the economy; decisions must be taken away from business executives, bankers, bureaucrats, experts, military brass and other oligarchic elites. That is the only chance that ecologically sound decisions will be taken. As long as power is in the hands of the ruling classes with vested interests in the capitalist system, no significant ecological transformation of the patterns of production and consumption is possible. Some sort of combination between direct democracy - both at the local level, in the enterprises and work units, and, by direct popular vote, on regional, national or continental scale - and representative delegates would seem to me the most adequate institutional form. Now, such an extended and radical democracy requires : a) full freedom of expression and organization; b) collective and/or public property over the means of production and services; c) a process of democratic planning.
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?
If I speak, and write, and organize, it is in order to help, in the measure of my very small and modest capacities, to the urgent and burning task of raising anti- capitalist consciousness, as well as convincing people of the need for a radical, ecological and socialist, alternative. This is my goal for the coming year, and the next ones, as long as I live. There are no guarantees of sucess, one can only wager - in the sense of Pascal - in an emancipated future, in an ecological revolution, in a socialist perspective.
Walter Benjamin once wrote that revolutions are not the locomotives of history, but humanity pulling the emergency brakes. We need to pull the brakes of our train, the capitalist modern industrial civilization, before it leads us to the abyss, i.e. to ecological catastrophe, in the form of global warming.
I see my activities as part of a much larger movement, supported by hundreds of thousands around the planet, the Global Justice movement, where trade-unionists and ecologists, peasant and women networks, indigenous communities, socialists, radical Christians and anarchists come together, to struggle not only against the WTO, the IMF and the neo-liberal disaster, but against the capitalist system itself; a movement that believes that “another world is possible”, a world emancipated from commodity fetichism, and based on the values of freedom, equality, solidarity and respect for the Nature.
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’m willing to join any organization, movement, or network on international scale, that aims at struggling against the established order, that challenges the capitalist system, and that is willing to fight for the interests of the exploited, the oppressed, the victims of the bourgeois civilization, as well as for the protection of the environment against the destructive logic of the so-called “free market economy”.
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?
I believe that any struggle of workers for their rights, of peasants for their land, of indigenous communities in defense of the forests, of women against patriarchy, is already a seed of the future. And any organization or movement that aims at a society emancipated from capitalist alienation and commodity reification, contains seeds of the future. But I don’t believe in organizing “islands of socialism”, or “emancipated territories”, or “solidary economies” inside the capitalist system.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others did not answer it?
Since I joined the process of debate around Resoc, it is logical to answer this interview. Others did not answer, perhaps because they thought the questions were not the most relevant…