rkm had written: My belief is that if we cannot achieve democracy then other reforms are ephemeral, and if we do achieve democracy then our economic and other policies will be worked out through the democratic process. 3/20/2000, Michael Albert responded: This, howeer, is exactly the same kind of belief that feminists have about kinship, nationalists have about culture, and marxists have about economics -- my domain of concern is not only important and worth attention, but we should focus on it primarily or even overwhelmingly because if we can just make headway there, everything else will be easier, or even follow automatically, and if we can't make progress in my domain, then everything else will be harder or impossible. I disagree, in practice and theory, feeling that a multiple focus and approach has infinitely more hope, for a variety of reasons. Dear Michael, Thanks for your response. I'm responding here because I haven't had time to join the forums yet. I published our earlier dialog on the cj & rn lists, and I'd like to follow up on it in the same venues. --- I believe we are talking about that community of radical activists who are pursuing some form of _systemic change in how our societies operate. Within that community, different groups are focusing on many different domains of changes, or different 'causes'. We both agree that is a good thing, for a variety of reasons, even if my previous message might not have given that impression. While all these causes are being pursued, the clear objective trend is that things are getting worse, not better. Our political system is under a stranglehold by the established parties, and by corporate media, financing, and political influence. Our activist efforts do exert some pressure on politicians, but it is minor compared to the power of this stranglehold. By the time any legislation gets drafted by committee, passed by the legislature, and signed by the executive, there is no chance that it will implement any favorable systemic changes. Instead, what is advanced is always the neoliberal corporate agenda. In order for _any systemic changes-for-the-better to be made, we need to find some way to break free of this stranglehold. My own reading of history shows clearly that this has happened in the past only as the result of a very strong mass movement. This is in harmony with common sense, and I don't see any reason to believe we can hope to achieve systemic change without the emergence of such a mass movement. Not when the establishment is so well entrenched. How might such a movement emerge out of our current circumstance? It seems to me that a movement is most likely to arise when activists begin to identify common underlying agendas - agendas which advance all of our causes at the same time, agendas which overcome those obstacles which are blocking all of us. I think that kind of thing began to happen in Seattle, when labor and environmental activists identified 'overcoming neoliberal globalization' (symbolized by the WTO) as a common objective. For some at least, divisiveness was being replaced by unity, and without anyone abandoning their own objectives or even losing their focus. They were each _refining their focus of attention onto a shared concern. And the experience of collaborating with those who were formerly on 'the other side' was, according to reports, electrifying. Globalization is in fact _one shared concern for all of us, even if not all of us have paid attention to it yet. Globalization is destroying the environment _and putting people out of work _and undermining the integrity of our economies, _and corrupting our political process, _and undermining our ability to have Participative Economic systems, etc. etc. The Seattle experience showed that focusing on a common concern could create solidarity and enable collaborative endeavor, and that the process could be motivating and energizing. That process, I suggest, is how a movement can evolve. I believe that those of us who look at these things from an overall perspective should be eager to do whatever we can to help spur that evolution along, and help develop a movement that can have a hope of accomplishing systemic change. We can do that by spreading awareness of common objectives, and by encouraging dialog about common objectives across the boundaries of our separate causes. Globalization seems to be a natural starting point, an issue around which to nurture solidarity. Globalization is 'in our face', it affects all of our causes significantly, and it leads naturally to other shared concerns. If we start focusing on globalization, we are soon led to the question: How is it that globalization dominates our societies' political agendas? That leads us to look at the corporate mass media and the corruption of our political process. From there one is led to noticing the 'political stranglehold' I talked about earlier. Thus, 'overcoming that stranglehold' emerges as a shared goal, and along with it, the goal of preventing that stranglehold from re-emerging. From there, one can see that a mass movement is needed - providing the strength to overcome the the stranglehold. And one can see that the movement must operate democratically - otherwise its victory would lead to domination by an undemocratic movement leadership. And one can see that the movement needs to set its eye on the prize of an _ongoing democratic movement - otherwise elites will maneuver their way back into power. I didn't start out with 'democracy' as my pet cause, I was led to it by the above kind of reasoning. And I bring it up as an issue not in competition with other causes, but as a complement, as a unifier, and to help activists to think through what they're trying to accomplish and how they might really succeed. Make sense? vision solidarity, rkm ============================================================================ Richard K Moore Wexford, Irleand Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance email: •••@••.••• CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/ book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri/gri.html A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication. -- Frantz Fanon Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. ============================================================================ .