My Resoc Interview
By Michael McGehee at Oct 21, 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?
In order: a participatory economy; a participatory democracy; for gender and sexuality and race I don’t personally know if a new institution is needed or if an emphasis on education, tolerance and diversity in our school systems, for example, are needed. I have a typical family but our gender roles are not as imbalanced as most.
The philosopher Daniel Dennett, a militant atheist, proposed that all religions should be taught in school. His argument is that an exposure to more information will have a civilizing effect on people. Stephen Shalom has made similar arguments in terms of political science: when people can come together and share their views face-to-face they tend to diversify and be more tolerant, and diversity in any setting – whether social or biological – has a balancing and stabilizing effect; urban planning and food sovereignty coupled with participatory planning: first we need to keep up with accurate costs and benefits and allow all affected parties to participate in decision-making. Second, we should put an emphasis on permaculture so as to minimize the use of pesticides and other harmful effects of monoculture, and we should use smaller-sized farming since this has proven to be more efficient. We should also look at urban planning, mass-transportation, etc. How and where we (re)build our cities and what chemicals and materials used will have a big effect on our environment. Our cities should complement local ecosystems.
What I am essentially for are any institutions and practices that optimizes human and social liberation and freedom, and that are symbiotic with our environment.
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?
First and foremost I am a father. I am borrowing this world from my children and I would like to see it returned in the same shape, if not better, than when I got it from my parents. Second, I learned a long time ago that our lives are never about ourselves but always centered on the relations we have with others. All of our dreams, nightmares, memories and experiences are about others – whether good or bad. We are a social species. We have evolved to put value on good relations. Just as the evolution of our brains has resulted in odorless molecules telling our brain that X smells good and Y smells bad, we have evolved to feel that good social relations are pleasant. I do what comes natural to me. I seek good social relations. Where they exist I want to indulge in them and where they can be improved I want to accordingly.
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?
To the degree that we can plant the seeds in the present so that they may germinate in the future, I am for it. If this organization can institute participatory, task-balancing, self-organizing and self-managing features then it is worth the time and energy to experiment. Structure breeds structure. We wont overcome sexism with sexism or racism with racism – and our chances of social liberation are not good if we cant radically alter the structure of our organizations in ways that compliment our goals.
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?
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others did not answer it?
A topic I think about frequently. They are too busy, not interested, maybe it was put in their spam folder, etc.