The Reimagining Society Project
By Michael Albert at Jul 21, 2009
Since this project is now very prominent on ZCom, and will be front and center for months to come, I thought it might be useful to explain where it came from, and why ZCom is hosting it, and what ZCom's hopes are.
Not long ago there was an essay published in the Nation Magazine by Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher Jr. It is also up on ZNet and was about rethinking socialist aims. There were some invited replies, but very little interaction or further exploration. I communicated with Bill about it, and we agreed it would be good to try again, seeking something larger and more thorough. We invited about fifteen folks to sign an invitation and suggest names to send it to. We added names ourselves, and sent off the message. Anyone invited could not only participate, but also invite others. Thus began the Reimagining Society Project.
If you click to see the top page of the Resoc site, and there are many links on ZNet you can use to do that, you will see that the original notion resonated and it has taken off into a quite large operation. The initial invitation appears on the Resoc pages, with the inviters list, etc., plus an explanation of the process of further invites and a schedule appears, as well, etc.
The main pages in the Resoc site, however are for content and participants. There are about 360 participants from 45 countries. Of those some will contribute "opening essayss and indeed there are already about 70 of those online, on the site, and I suspect that total will climb to well over 100 in the next two to three weeks.
The essays were all to be about vision and strategy. The authors and everyone else in the project are also welcomed to comment on, or to more extensively react to each other's work. Some of that has already begun, as well, and much more is likely to follow.
After we have more time for these exchanges, we will have authors extract from their work positive features or proposals or critically important claims that they feel ought to be part of a widely shared vision and strategy in coming years. We will then conduct polls to determine people's reactions to these, both among the project's participants, and of ZCom users, too, and, based on the results, continue the discussions.
What is the goal of all this?
Well, on the one hand, if nothing else the project is going to generate the largest outpouring of concerted thought and expression about long term vision and strategy in many decades, or perhaps ever. It includes prominent feminists, anti racists, anti imperialists, socialists, etc. It has people from the peer to peer community, the solidarity economy community, the Bolivarian revolution, and the parecon/parsoc community - among others. There should be a lot of cross fertilization, debate, and exploration. The polls will be revealing of both points of unity and points of difference. People addressing one another will hopefully create new ties among people around the world, as well as refinements of views bringing them to wider appeal.
That much - and it is quite a lot - is to me looking almost inevitable, already. On the other hand, I have to admit that I hope for more. I would like to see 200 to 300 participants (and many more who are reading along) arrive at a quite substantial level of shared vision and strategy - indeed, enough to sustain alliance, and perhaps organization. If that were to occur, since the folks involved all have large numbers of fellow movement actors in their respective countries, we it would be natural for there to follow local, national, and even international gatherings to solidify the growing solidarity and perhaps take off from it into organization and program. That, at any rate, is my personal hope. Other participants will have other aims and hopes.
One of the very nice things about the project is that participation in it was determined in a horizontal manner, and that now that it is under way everyone can write as much as anyone else can. There is no accepting or rejecting content - all contributions by participants appear - so that where this goes is going to be up to everyone to determine by their actions and communications with others.
Two last points. Any web site or periodical can link to or repost any of the material - and even all of it - if they wish to. There is no need to ask, just do it - though without altering content, of course. ZNet-ers spreading the word about the effort would help, of course.