My Resoc Interview
By Paul Street at Dec 03, 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?
Workers' control of core economic activities with no self-replicating hierarchical division of labor/tasks and with core "prime directive" missions of enhancing human freedom and developing full species capacities and ecological harmony. Significant differences in wealth, income, power, leisure are abolished, prohibited and culturally de-legitimized - understood as noxious artifacts of "pre-history." No private ownership or management or monopolization of means of production, distribution, social surplus, skills-transference, and communication. Balanced jobs complexes make a great deal of sense to me. Key institutions would include fully empowered, democratically elected and participatory worker councils. Similar principles embedded in all relevant institutions.
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 primarily a radical Left researcher, writer, and speaker at present. Numerous activists and citizens tell me that my intellectual work demystifying and exposing dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies and doctrines is useful in helping motivate and inform radical/revolutionary consciousness and politics. I am often skeptical about how true that is (if true at all), and I remain painfully conscious of Marx's comment that "philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it." I'd say we have at most ten years to transcend the capitalist order or kiss livable ecology and democratic prospects goodbye. My goal is to help reconstitute a relevant American egalitarian and serious left and put msyelf and my fellow U.S. and world citizens on the path to revolution well before that time point.
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?
A genuinely revolutionary and internationalist organization dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and the development of a many-sided radical-democratic alternative? I'd join, of course. I already affiliate to some extent with groups that have some of this in embryonic form. Of course, it would take a lot more than an e-mail: living proof would come in real life actions, commitment, and courage, matching practices and activity to proclaimed ideals and with the demonstrated willingness of members and "leaders" to pay real personal prices for resisting the dominant order. If I joined this hypothetical organization it would be on me as well to push for the sort of radical-participatory-egalitarian ideals that is required and which we deserve.
4. Do you think efforts to organize movements, projects, and our own organizations should embody the seeds of the future in the present? If yes, can you say what, very roughly, you think some of the implications would be for an organization you would favor?
I say yes but not without adding that a revolutionary organization under capitalism/imperialism and a revolutionary society after the defeat of capital/empire are two very different things. I want left institutions to be as open, egalitarian, liberating, and participatory as humanly possible on the path of permanent revolution.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others did not answer it?
I figured I'd look like a hopelessly alienated, indifferent, and disengaged intellectual if I didn't answer it. I won't speculate much on those who blew it off except to say that many left types are busy just trying to develop basic resistance of any kind to current outrages. Lots of people I know who have left values are struggling with depression and cynicism - hopelessness.