cj#1074, rn> RE: Vision Matters – dialog w/Michael Albert

2000-03-24

Richard Moore

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 
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