cj#573> Pursuing a Progressive Agenda (fwd)


Richard Moore

Dear cj,

        Some year and half ago, the Cyberspace Society (CS) was founded by
Vigdor Shreibman, Curtiss Priest, myself, and a few others.  It set
admirable goals for itself, modelling itself somewhat on the Fabian
Society, and seeking to undertake informed and systematic discourse in
pursuit of defining and helping bring about a more enlightened society.

        This effort may be quixotic, it may for some even be
tongue-in-cheek, and it certainly faces the danger of academic irrelevance
-- but the level of discussion has been interesting and often of excellent
quality.  Our biggest problem, ironically, has been to formualte a
consensus about how we wished to proceed with our endeavor.

        Recently, there has emerged a thread on CS which seems to offer
hope for such consensus, and may permit us to begin making more substantial
progress.  I bring a piece of this thread to cj partly as a status report
on CS, and partly because the issues there are much the same as for the
whole progressive movement.

        There is an accompanying article (Exorcising Capitalism) which I
hope you will also find of interest.


To: Cyberspace Society <•••@••.•••>
From: •••@••.••• (Richard K. Moore)
Date: Fri, 30 August 96
Subject: re: dissertations and collective inquiry

8/29/96, Vigdor Schreibman wrote:
>   Solo dissertations remain a viable methodology of conveying
>   information and critical opinion but only as a supplement to
>   the systematic management of collective inquiry and action.
>   In our context we can easily establish a web site, appropriately
>   organized by purpose and subject, to accommodate such papers as
>   people may wish to offer.  Notices may be posted of such works.
>   People who wish to, can fetch and read them.  We already have a
>   directory at Fins Information Age Library, Cyberspace_Society,
>   where materials on that subject may be collected and made availble.

        I hope this statement can provide a basis for consensus between
Shreibman, Gelles, and myself, re/ "right action" in the pursuit of a
larger democratic consensus.  The web site, in particular, gets my
unqualified support.

        The proposed Process Formula is "systematic collective inquiry"
supplemented by "solo dissertations".  I'd say this is a time-proven
formula (ref: American Revolution & enlightenment writers) and agree that
it is advisable for our current endeavor as well.  Deep analysis and
sythesis, re/ complex topics, is simply not a group-think task.

        For example, Vigdor's three-level model for the Information
Infrastructure required solid solo thinking: now that the scheme is on the
table, it can be effectively discussed by the systematic means Vigdor is
currently suggesting.  And if that group process determines the model needs
to be revised, I imagine Vigor will rewrite it -- not that a collaborative
writing exercise will be launched.

        In purusing this Process Formula, there are many jobs to do, and
each contributor must choose a role appropriate to their skills and
interests.  Perhaps Vigdor's role is Gifted Facilitator, if so fair enough.
Let him pursue that role with our encouragement and cooperation.  But
others of us have different roles -- and there is no value in debating
which role is "most important" to the cause -- all team members have their
part to play -- and solidarity and mutual synergy are called for.

        My own attempts at analysis and synthesis -- what Vigdor has called
hot-air balloons -- are not intended to undermine or compete with Vigdor's
process, they are intended to enlighten it, to raise the level of options
on the table for discussion.  If they fail in their mission, they deserve
criticism, but such efforts should be welcomed as a necessary part of our
process, as the new Formula seems to do.


        I am convinced there are substantial gaps in our collective
understanding and vision, which make it impossible for us to architect an
agenda for a democratic and sustainable future.  One of those gaps was
organizational: I made the case in one of my "balloons" that old-fashioned
grass roots organizing and face-to-face coalition are essential, and
apparently our group discussion now reflects that position.  More power to
our Formula.

        Another gap, I believe, is lack of an agenda for political reform.
Vigdor hints at an electronically enabled direct democracy, but such a
scheme has not been adequately defined for discussion, and I don't believe
that approach, by itself, will be sufficient in any case.  We need also to
critique our plurality-wins, two-party-rule electon system, to address the
hegemony of corporate-lobbying over legislation, and find a comprehensive
formula for enabling responsive democratic government.  I claim this will
require solo investigations, if only to gather together existing,
well-articulated proposals.

        A more formidable gap, I claim, is lack of an agenda for economic
reform.  We (and I include the whole progressive movement here) must
establish economic goals, else we are irrelevant to the functional malaise
dragging down our society.  And we must have an analysis of the current
economic system, else we are acting from ignorance, and shouldn't be
trusted with public responsibility.  And we must have a workable "business
plan" for a human-centered economy, else we offer no hope for radical and
lasting societal improvement.

        I suggest that CS would be well-advised to give some well-focused
attention to this question of an agenda for economic reform.  The need is
urgent, and the work to be done is considerable.  This pursuit could
profitably proceed on two fronts: as a group, we could discuss goals --
what would we like to be true of a human-centered economy?  As solo
contributors, we could produce (or search-out) appropriate analyses and
concrete proposals for reform.

        And these two "tracks" could synergize -- feedback with one other
to mutual benefit.  Identification of goals feeds analysis, and solo
proposals feed the ensuing "how to" group discussion.

        My accompanying article (Exorcising Capitalism) is intended to
contribute to this synergystic process.  I hope Vigor can respond to it in
that light, and will not see it as an irrelevant balloon.  I believe the
article identifies a critical point of leverage, a fulcrum that has the
potential to "move the world" without causing calamatous economic
earthquakes.  Your considered attention and enlightened criticism is



    Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
     Cyberlib:  www | ftp --> ftp://ftp.iol.ie/users/rkmoore/cyberlib