"This is a spectacular book of ideas-brave, adventurous, intriguing ideas that reclaim perhaps the greatest human asset of all, political imagination, and help us realise once again that another world is indeed possible."
-- John Pilger, Journalist, Author, and Film Maker
After three years of organizing and editing, the book Real Utopia: Participatory Society for the 21st Century (AK Press) will finally be released in May. The book, my first, presents participatory vision and strategy, familiar to regular Z users; composed by a diverse range of novice and veteran activists, organizers, writers, and intellectuals. The content is derived from and addresses many different regions of the world: from Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as North and South America. Real Utopia addresses politics, economics, gender, sexuality, parenting, culture, race, education, technology, ecology, cities and architecture, art, history, theory and practice, as well as institutions and movements. Taken together the content shows how classlessness, self-management, diversity, and solidarity are all desirable and attainable. The book aims to provide convincing vision and strategy that reaches into the roots of today’s problems and seeks to replace them with emancipatory alternatives. The book's proposals are only partial, and require effort by all who care, to further develop and refine mutually agreed upon and widely shared vision of a future participatory society and world.
Although Real Utopia is yet to be released for a couple months (May), a small series of panels and events have been organized as a pre-launch push and announcement of the vision and politics presented in the book. See below for further details about events happening in New York and San Fransisco and how you can meet up with us.
Below is a general description of Real Utopia, comments on the books content by other authors, the table of contents, a few book links, event info, and all book contributor bios.
REAL UTOPIA: PARTICIPATORY SOCIETY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
What if we had direct control over our daily lives? What if society's defining institutions-those encompassing economics, politics, kinship, culture, community, and ecology-were based not on competition, individual ownership, and coercion, but on self-management, equity, solidarity, and diversity? Real Utopia identifies and obliterates the barriers to an egalitarian, bottom-up society, while convincingly outlining how to build it.
Instead of simply declaring "another world is possible," the writers in this collection engage with what that world would look like, how it would function, and how our commitment to just outcomes is related to the sort of institutions we maintain. Topics include: participatory economics, political vision, education, architecture, artists in a free society, environmentalism, work after capitalism, and poly-culturalism. The catchall phrase here is "participatory society"-one that is directly democratic and seeks institutional solutions to complex sociological and economic questions.
Contributors include: Michael Albert, Barbara Ehrenreich, Steve Shalom, Robin Hahnel, Marie Trigona, Justin Podur, Tom Wetzel, Cynthia Peters, Andrej Grubacic, and Mandisi Majavu, among others.
See all book contributors and bios below…
About the Author:
Chris Spannos is an activist, organizer, and anti-capitalist. He is a full-time staff member of the internationally acclaimed ZNet, a website dedicated to social change, hosting works by many of today's leading social commentators, organizers, activists, and analysts, with 300,000 users weekly. In addition to Real Utopia, he is also editing Hope, Reason & Revolution for AK Press (2009). He resides in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Comments about Real Utopia
"This is a spectacular book of ideas -- brave, adventurous, intriguing ideas that reclaim perhaps the greatest human asset of all, political imagination, and help us realise once again that another world is indeed possible."
-- John Pilger, Journalist, Author, and Film Maker
"Chris Spannos has assembled a volume of hard-hitting, thought-provoking essays which address a critical need on the Left: the creation and elaboration of new theory. Whether in agreement or disagreement, readers will be both excited and challenged by the contents of this book. So pick it up right now!"
-- Bill Fletcher, Jr., Co-founder of the Black Radical Congress, Co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal, and Former President of TransAfrica Forum.
“This book captures what’s best in past and most promising in future social practice; no one-size-fits-all miracles but practical suggestions and a huge and warranted display of confidence in peoples’ skills and imagination. It’s a compendium of healthily head-in-clouds [where the air is purer] but feet-on-ground utopias, and it reinforces our belief that the story of human emancipation is far from over.”
-- Susan George, Board Chair of the Transnational Institute.
“This excellent book fills a huge gap in the thinking and writing about the creation of a better society. It not only outlines how such a society might be organized in theory, but also looks at concrete applications of these ideas around the world, in recent history, and in the U.S., and how we might organize to get there. This book is essential reading for all those who firmly believe that a better world is possible and who want to engage with some of the best ideas and practices for bringing about such a world.”
-- Gregory Wilpert, author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The Policies of the Chavez Presidency and editor of Venezuelanalysis.com
"Now that the idea that “there is no alternative” has been challenged by the idea that “another world is possible,” it behooves us to debate what that “other world” could and should be. This book presents a coherent school of thought with provocative answers to that question -- answers that go beyond the traditional shibboleths of the left."
-- Jeremy Brecher, historian, author of Strike!
"There comes a time in every anarchist's life when she must decide whether her value system has application in the real world or is simply an ideology of lament. For those not content with the low-mileage of the latter, Real Utopia is an inspiring interim report -- collated from the four corners of the Earth -- on the evolution of the complex adaptive system we commonly refer to as 'anarchism'."
-- Chris Hannah, Propagandhi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS REAL UTOPIA?
Part 1: Defining Spheres of a Participatory Society
CHAPTER 1: PARECON TODAY
Chris Spannos interviews Michael Albert
CHAPTER 2: PARPOLITY: POLITICAL VISION FOR THE GOOD SOCIETY
CHAPTER 3: THE ART (AND SERENDIPITY) OF KINSHIP: IDEAS ABOUT
FAMILY, SEXUALITY, AND CAREGIVING IN A BETTER WORLD
CHAPTER 4: POLYCULTURALISM AND THE GOOD SOCIETY
CHAPTER 5: PARECON AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Chris Spannos interviews Robin Hahnel
Part 2: Revolutionizing Everyday Life
CHAPTER 6: ARTISTS AND PARECON
CHAPTER 7: FROM SELF-MANAGED MOVEMENTS
TO SELF-MANAGED CITY
CHAPTER 8: TECHNOLOGY OF THE NEW SOCIETY
CHAPTER 9: PARTICIPATORY PLANNING IN LIFE AFTER CAPITALISM
Barbara Ehrenreich interviews Michael Albert
CHAPTER 10: EDUCATION FOR A PARTICIPATORY SOCIETY
Chris Spannos interviews Noam Chomsky
Part 3: Assessing ParEcon Internationally
CHAPTER 11: AFRICA: LIFE AFTER COLONIALISM
CHAPTER 12: LOCAL PLANNING: THE KERALA EXPERIMENT
Richard W. Franke
CHAPTER 13: PARTICIPATORY BALKANS
Exchanges between Andrej Grubacic and Michael Albert
CHAPTER 14: PARECON AND SAC: THE CENTRAL ORGANISATION
OF THE WORKERS OF SWEDEN
CHAPTER 15: PROJECT FOR A PARTICIPATORY SOCIETY UK
Mark Evans interviewed by UK Watch
CHAPTER 16: FASINPAT: ARGENTINE FACTORIES WITHOUT BOSSES
CHAPTER 17: VENEZUELA’S PATH
Part 4: Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards:
History’s Lessons for the Future
CHAPTER 18: WORKERS’ POWER AND THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
CHAPTER 19: THE SPANISH ANARCHISTS, THROUGH
A PARTICIPATORY LENS
CHAPTER 20: WINNOWING WHEAT FROM CHAFF: SOCIAL DEMOCRACY
AND LIBERTARIAN SOCIALISM IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Part 5: Theory & Practice: Institutions & Movement Building
CHAPTER 21: THE MAKING OF SOUTH END PRESS AND Z
CHAPTER 22: PARECON AND WORKERS’ SELF-MANAGEMENT: REFLECTIONS ON
WINNIPEG’S MONDRAGON BOOKSTORE &
COFFEE HOUSE COLLECTIVE
CHAPTER 23: THE NEWSTANDARD: A PARECON
WORKPLACE IS POSSIBLE
CHAPTER 24: VANCOUVER PARECON COLLECTIVE:
FOUR YEARS OF ORGANIZING
CHAPTER 25: CAPES: THE CHICAGO AREA PARTICIPATORY
Matt McBride, Lloyd Philbrook, and Mitchell Szczepanczyk
CHAPTER 26: DOING VISION: THE AUSTIN PROJECT FOR
A PARTICIPATORY SOCIETY
Part 6: Moving Toward a Participatory Society
CHAPTER 27: PRAXIS MAKES PERFECT: THE NEW YOUTH ORGANIZING
Madeline Gardner and Joshua Kahn Russell
CHAPTER 28: ASSEMBLY ORGANIZING: AUTONOMOUS POLITICS
AND ITS PROBLEMS
CHAPTER 29: US SOCIAL FORUM VISION AND STRATEGY PROPOSAL
Z Staff and Marcus Denton
CHAPTER 30: WHICH WAY FOR THE NEW LEFT? SOCIAL THEORY, VISION, AND STRATEGY
FOR A REVOLUTIONARY YOUTH AND STUDENT MOVEMENT
Pat Korte and Brian Kelly
CHAPTER 31: STUDENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS: DID YOU JUST SAY CLASS?
John J. Cronan Jr.
CHAPTER 32: FROM HERE TO PARECON
CHAPTER 33: BUILDING A PARECONISH MOVEMENT
Here is a small list of pre-launch events/panels kicking off the coming of the book. Panelists will be presenting on their respective book chapters. If you’re in any of these areas and would like to attend or meet up for socializing please contact me through my ZSpace page, or email link above, at the top of this blog.
Richard W. Franke
Joshua Kahn Russell
All Panelist and Book Contributor bios below…
Meaghan Linick-Loughley is an SDS member, organizer, and activist.
Ezequiel Adamovsky is a historian and anti-capitalist activist. Apart from his academic publications, he has written extensively on issues of globalization, anti-capitalism, and Leftist politics. He has recently published the books Anti-capitalism for Beginners: The New Generation of Emancipatory Movements (2003) and Beyond Old Left: Six Essays for a New Anti-Capitalism (2007).
Michael Albert is a leading critic on political economy, U.S. foreign policy, and mass media. A veteran writer and activist, he currently works with Z Magazine and ZNet, both of which he co-founded. He has co-authored, with Robin Hahnel, many books on participatory economics. Realizing Hope (2006), and Remembering Tomorrow (2007), a memoir, are his latest books. He lives in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Jessica Azulay is a writer and activist based in Syracuse, NY. She co-founded The NewStandard in 2003 and was a member of its collective until it shut down in 2007. Jessica is available to help groups wishing to start up pareconish workplaces. Get in touch with her at email@example.com.
Paul Burrows, a Winnipeg-based social justice activist and organizer since the late-1980s, has co-founded a number of worker-run collectives and activist institutions in Winnipeg, including the Old Market Autonomous Zone (A-Zone), Mondragón Bookstore & Coffee House, the Canada-Palestine Support Network, and more recently, the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre. Information about all these projects can be found on the A-Zone website at: www.a-zone.org.
Noam Chomsky is one of the foremost political dissidents in the U.S. He is author of numerous bestselling political works, including Failed States (2007), and What We Say Goes (2007) A professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, Chomsky is widely credited with having revolutionized modern linguistics. He lives outside Boston, Massachusetts.
John J. Cronan Jr. lives in New York City, where he is restaurant worker and recent graduate of Pace University. He is also an organizer with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), as well as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Food and Allied Workers Union I.U. 460/640
Marcus Denton founded the Austin Project for a Participatory Society in 2007. A 2003 graduate of the Z Media Institute, he teaches at a class and race segregated inner city high school in Austin, Texas.
Brian Dominick has been organizing collectives in Central New York and elsewhere for nearly 15 years. He was co-founder of PeoplesNetWorks, the parecon organization that published The NewStandard from 2003 to 2007.
Barbara Ehrenreich is author of many books including Nickel and Dimed (2001), Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (2006), and most recently, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (2007).
Mark Evans works in a hospital as a Health Care Assistant and lives in Birmingham U.K. He has been active within the trade union movement undertaking a variety of roles. Over the last year he has spent most of his spare time helping set up a new organisation called Project for a Participatory Society---United Kingdom (PPS-UK).
Richard W. Franke is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Montclair State University in New Jersey. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University in 1972. His most recent works on Kerala include Local Democracy and Development: The Kerala People’s Campaign for Decentralized Planning (2002 co-authored with Thomas Isaac) and Striving for Sustainability: Environmental Stress and Democratic Initiatives in Kerala (2006 co-authored with Srikumar Chattopadhyay).
Jerry Fresia received his PhD in political science from the University of Massachusetts, 1982. He also has studied art and painted his entire life. In 1989, he moved to San Francisco where he organized alternative and independent outdoor exhibitions for visual and performing artists. Currently, he lives on Lake Como, Italy where he and his wife host painting workshops.
Madeline Gardner has done a breadth of local work from indigenous rights to anti-war walkouts and defending equal access to higher education. Nationally she has conducted listening projects and organized mass direct actions and convergences around the IMF/WB. Madeline is co-founder, author, and trainer with Beyond the Choir. She is 25 years old and a member of SDS at the University of Minnesota.
Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist propagandist and anarchist historian from the Balkans. He works with Z Balkans, GlobalBalkans, and ZNet. He is a member of the Post-Yugoslav anarchist collective "Freedom Fight."
Robin Hahnel has taught political economy at American University for over 30 years, and is currently visiting professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. He has co-authored, along with Michael Albert, numerous books on participatory economics. His most recent book is Economic Justice and Democracy: From Competition to Cooperation (2005).
Brian Kelly, age 20, is a political organizer with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); the newly reformed national student organization. Since 2006 he has helped to build SDS as a powerful, radical student organization rooted in vision, strategy, and long-haul struggle. He is a student at Pace University in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Pat Korte is an organizer with, and a founder of, this century’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). He is an undergraduate at Eugene Lang College at the New School in New York City. Since high school, Pat has been active in anti-imperialist, student power, and labour struggles. He is 19 years-old and lives in Brooklyn.
Mandisi Majavu is with the Africa Project for Participatory Society ( www.apps.org.za). He is a postgraduate student at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Markland is a social service worker and occasional writer/researcher. A member of the Vancouver Participatory Economics Collective and organizer with StopWar.ca, he lives in Vancouver with his partner, Marla.
Cynthia Peters is a writer, activist, and mother of two. She has contributed essays on organizing, gender and sexuality, the politics of parenting, and movement-building to numerous books and periodicals, especially Z Magazine and ZNet. For her day job, she edits The Change Agent---a social justice magazine for adult learners and adult educators.
Justin Podur is a writer and editor at ZNet. He is based in Toronto and has reported from Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela, Israel/Palestine, and on race/culture issues in North America.
Nikos Raptis was born in Athens, Greece, in 1930. He is a retired civil engineer. He has been writing on social matters for the last 40 years. He has also translated works by Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert.
Marla Renn lives in Vancouver where she is an anti-war organizer and a member of the Vancouver Parecon Collective. She is passionate about community building and education. Marla is currently an aspiring stilt-walker and clown.
Joshua Kahn Russell is a 23 year old trainer and organizer with Students for a Democratic Society and Rainforest Action Network. Josh was a co-founder of the Activist Resource Center and the Radical Student Alliance at Brandeis University. Recently, he has helped coordinate a barrage of activist training camps, convergences, and events, including the U.S. Social Forum 2007. Josh currently lives in Oakland, CA.
Anders Sandström is active in the Swedish syndicalist union SAC, The Central Organisation of the Workers of Sweden. After working ten years in the business world as a financial manager and business controller he quit, changed sides and joined SAC in 2002 with the intention to work for a different type of society. He has been working in several different positions within the organisation and in the SAC owned businesses since then.
Lydia Sargent co-founded South End Press (where she was collective member for ten years). She also co-founded Z Magazine (where she has worked since 1987). She is editor of Playbook (1986) and Women and Revolution (1981), and contributes editorials, features, and a regular "Hotel Satire" column to Z. Active in theater for 30 years, Lydia has written, adapted, directed, and performed numerous political satires, including a three-part play mystery series about a collective of revolutionary women setting up a kind of participatory society, The Long Sigh, Vanish Like A Summer Trantrum, and The Second Street Hotel.
Stephen R. Shalom teaches political science at William Paterson University in New Jersey. He writes for Z Magazine and ZNet, and is on the editorial boards of Critical Asian Studies and New Politics. Among his books are Socialist Visions (ed., 1983) and Which Side Are You On? An Introduction to Politics (2003).
Chris Spannos is an activist, organizer, and anti-capitalist. He is a full-time staff member with Z. He resides in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In addition to editing this collection Chris is also editing Hope, Reason, & Revolution (2009).
Marie Trigona has reported from Argentina for numerous media outlets around the world. A writer, radio producer, and film maker, her work focuses on labour struggles, social movements, and human rights in Latin America. Her writing has appeared in publications including Z Magazine, ZNet, NACLA, Monthly Review and many others. She collaborates with video and direct action collective Grupo Alavío (www.agoratv.org).
Tom Wetzel is a native of Los Angeles where he received a PhD in philosophy at UCLA. He has worked as a gas station attendant and typesetter, taught philosophy at several colleges, and currently works as a technical writer in the computer industry. He has been involved in union organizing and affordable housing activism. He is a member of the board of directors of the San Francisco Community Land Trust.
Matt McBride, Lloyd Philbrook, and Mitchell Szczepanczyk are residents of Chicago and are longtime members of CAPES, the Chicago Area Participatory Economics Society. Matt works in the food service industry, Lloyd works as a computer consultant, and Mitchell works as a software developer.