My Resoc Interview
By Taylor Griffin at Oct 29, 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 am for institutions that measure up against a core set of principles. 1) All people must be able to live and act with the greatest degree of liberty possible in a society - both in their private lives and at work. 2) Diversity should be respected and valued. 3) Hierarchy and arbitrary authority should be limited as much as possible and a healthy skepticism of any authority should exist in spirit. 4) Exploitation should be considered intolerable and our institutions should be oriented in a such a way as to be always searching for instances of exploitation and expelling them.
I also feel that our institutions should be organized such that anyone be able to participate in the decision making of those institutions in as much as the decisions affect them. This would mean institutions would be most active at a local level.
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 believe organizing is the only way social progress is made. My goal in the foreseeable future is to support a movement to understand the climate crisis as less a technological problem than a design and political problem. This is to say, that while we should certainly look for technological solutions to so-called environmental problems, we must not ignore that our political system indulges special interests who fight against our efforts and we must not ignore our poorly designed infrastructure that does not function in an "environmentally friendly" way.
So I am proposing and hope to help effect within the foreseeable future a grassroots effort to think of urban and suburban life as part of an ecology. In this way, we might rethink how we are beneficial for and receive benefit from our environment, and also we may rethink the very meaning of "waste" as such. A waste stream might be intercepted and processed in something as simple as a garden, which is something that almost anyone can participate in. In this way, waste ceases to be waste and becomes an input. Technology is a partner in this effort, not a substitution for it. I believe the real revelation in all of this is not merely that this effort is necessary and fruitful but also empowering and truly enjoyable.
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 would be likely to join if the goals of this organization were in agreement with the principles I mentioned in question number 1. I would also require the organization be non-violent and in as much as possible prefigure it's ultimate vision in the structure and workings of the organization.
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 think it should. And to speak quite simply, an organization should minimize hierarchy (notwithstanding the possibility and necessity of real, deserved leadership) and maximize participation.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others
did not answer it?
I answered because I think it is very important to support those in your community (in this case, a community of shared ideas) in organizing efforts as much as possible when you agree with their intentions. I will refrain from speculating on the motives of those who did not answer as I am not sure what those motives are.