“I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the Promised Land if I could, because if I led you in, someone else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition.” Eugene Debs, 1910
“Fuck the g-ride. I want the machines that are making ‘em.” Rage Against the Machine, 1996
It was nearly a century ago when Eugene Debs spoke these words, and honestly we still see too many folks playing “Follow the Leader.” Likewise, it was nearly thirteen years when Zack de la Rocha spoke his mind, and while we just bailed out GM, with one of its plant here in Arlington, I don’t see the possibility of replacing private ownership anywhere in sight.
We need more people joining this group but more importantly we need more people participating in meetings, discussions and activities.
We are dealing with the difference between a Revolutionary and a Reactionary – an Organizer and an Activist – Agents of Change and Passive-aggressive Bullshit.
If we want change we cannot sit by and let others lead or decide for us; we cannot consign ourselves to mere venting of anger and frustration. We have to be an integral part of the change we desire. We must use our heads as well as our hands to get ourselves out of our present condition.
In closing, here is something from Michael Albert. Please digest:
I would like to offer ten claims about the vision and strategy of participatory economics. I believe each claim is true. I also believe each claim is important enough that projects, organizations, and movements seeking a better world ought to embrace the ten claims to help inspire and orient our efforts. My priority in this presentation is not to address all possible claims even about pareconish movement building, much less about movement building in its entirety. Nor is my priority to recount all reasons for advocating the few claims that I do offer or to address all possible doubts people may have. Instead I hope to elicit in reply to the largely bald claims reasons people may have for rejecting any of them and I hope to inspire people to explore and act on collective reactions, perhaps coming to some shared agreement or at least clarity about disagreement.
Claim 1: We need shared institutional vision to inspire hope, incorporate the seeds of the future in the present, and guide gains that will take us to where we want to wind up. We must create such vision.
Claim 2: Classlessness ought to be part of our economic goal. We must end the rule of the capitalist class over labor. We must also end the rule of the coordinator class over labor.
Claim 3: Beyond classlessness, for the economy we also ought to seek positive economic values including equity, solidarity, diversity, self management, ecological balance, and economic efficiency in utilizing assets to meet needs and develop potentials.
Claim 4: While economics is profoundly important, which is why we seek to build a pareconish movement, we do not live by economics alone and economics is not alone profoundly important. A pareconish agenda for movement building must address other central sides of social life consistently with parecon's economic structure but also respectful of equally prioritized agendas to revolutionize those other sides of life.
Claim 5: Seeking classlessness as in Claim 2 as well as the positive values of Claim 3 as well as accommodating economy to gains in other spheres of social life and vice versa as in Claim 4, compels us to reject private ownership of productive property, corporate divisions of labor, top down decision making, markets, and central planning.
Claim 6: Seeking the classlessness advocated in Claim 2 and the proposed positive values advocated in Claim 3 and the broader social aims hinted at in Claim 4, and rejecting the capitalist and coordinator institutions dismissed in Claim 5, leaves us needing to advocate new economic institutions, including the defining structures of participatory economics which are self managing workers and consumers councils, remuneration for duration, intensity, and onerousness of socially valued work, balanced job complexes, and participatory planning.
Claim 7: Requirements for our own projects, organizations, and movements ought to include patiently incorporating the seeds of the future in the present, including self managed decision making, balanced job complexes, equitable remuneration, and cooperative negotiated planning, as well as central features of other dimensions of the new world we seek.
Claim 8: Seeking participatory economic institutions requires that we not only create in the present pareconish institutions as described by Claim 7 as well as in fuller descriptions elsewhere, but that we also fight for changes in capitalist institutions. Demands made against existing institutions ought to enhance people's lives, advance the likelihood of further successful struggle, and advance the consciousness and organizational capacity to pursue those further aims. These provide the yardsticks for measuring success.
Claim 9: At some point in the future vast movements will have features such as those noted above as well as many others, of course, and will on the basis of their merits become vehicles toward winning and finally will also help compose the infrastructure of a new world. This will not happen, however, until people self consciously make it happen.
Claim 10: When a capable and caring group agrees on Claims 1 through 9, it becomes incumbent on them to collectively seek wider agreement from a still larger group and to solidify their inspiring intellectual unity into a more practical organizational and programmatic unity, in accord with all the claims.
If not now, when?