It’s not enough that people are angry enough to tear down the system. We also need, in advance, at least some vision of what we’ll replace it with. Without that vision, we’ll end up with the wrong kind of revolution, or we won’t have enough revolutionaries to get things moving in the first place.
So we need to start by writing a manifesto (or a declaration or constitution or whatever you want to call it). It should inspire people to organize around it.
Some past documents are worth reviewing. Have you read the Communist Manifesto? The Port Huron Statement? But our new document should not be simply a rewrite of those, because our goals must go beyond those. We don’t need just a new form of government. We need a new form of community, a new interaction with the ecosystem, a new way of life. We need to change our institutions, our habits, our values, our perceptions.
I am NOT calling for a “constitutional convention” in a building somewhere. If we have one of those, it will be taken over by plutocrats or “libertarians” or some other fans of a classical past that never was, and it will just make things worse for the people.
No, what I have in mind is that individuals and small committees will start posting online their suggestions for PIECES of the document, which will then be discussed extensively online. It’s actually better if no one tries to write the whole thing. We need lots of different people contributing different perspectives. I’m hoping a single document will coalesce, in consensus, from the mass discussion.
I’d encourage participation from everyone who wants to participate. But most of all I’d encourage participation from our greatest visionaries and writers. The people who have been thinking and writing and rewriting all their lives may have some of the most useful things to say — and perhaps more importantly, the most useful way of saying things — and I would urge everyone to pay extra attention to these people.
Yes, everyone should get one vote, but you can only vote on a question after the question has been framed and formulated, and the people who do the framing and formulating have tremendous power. We do not want that power handed to our enemies. As Thomas Pynchon said, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” Nor do we want that power handed over to people who haven’t given the matter much thought, and who will formulate the question without much thought.
I will take this opportunity to name my own favorite visionaries: Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, Paul Street, Peter Joseph, Charles Eisenstein, Rebecca Solnit, Julian Assange, David Swanson, Caitlin Johnstone, Richard Wolff, Lee Camp. I recommend the works of these people to everyone, and I hope these people will participate in this endeavor. I suppose that, in their own fashion, they are already participating.
We’ll need some inalienable rights. For instance, “all men [and women] are created equal” appeared in the US Declaration of Independence. It’s too bad that the USA never lived up to that line — perhaps because that line wasn’t backed up by corresponding institutions. We need to plan some institutions.
But not everyone will agree what the changes should be. For instance:
I want an end to hierarchy and property, because I’m convinced that those lead inevitably to vast inequality, plutocracy, war, ecocide, etc. But I’m well aware that the majority does not yet share my view.
And even among the people who want hierarchy or property, there are different opinions about what kind of coercion or what system of not sharing is best.
(Some people believe in localism — i.e., hierarchy should be based on geographical proximity and not on other kinds of relationships. Personally, I don’t care for that.)
We’ll need lengthy discussions about all of this.
How will we deal with our disagreements? I don’t think that “51% overrules 49%” is a happy solution. I’d consider that only as a desperate last resort. I’m looking for something better than that.
- We need some way that people can live separately enough so that, to a large extent, both parties to a disagreement can get what they want.
- And more importantly, we need to care for and understand each other enough so that most of the time, we end up wanting the same things. That’s a cultural change that can’t be forced, but maybe it can somehow be inspired.
Shall we begin?
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2018 Dec 6, version 1.02. Watch for more to be added here.