The Vision and Strategy Poll on ZCom was inspired by and created in context of the Reimagining Society Project.
We went over the positive ideas present in roughly 100 Resoc vision and strategy essays and extracted them and then posed them as questions seeking people’s reactions. We sent those draft questions out to a small group, then larger, then all Resoc participants, each time seeking editing advice, things that needed to be added, etc. Once the questions were settled, we opened the poll for people to take.
The idea of offering the poll was to discover how people felt about all the positions Resoc participants offered as important in their Resoc essays. We wanted to determine areas of agreement and difference, the latter for further exploration.
We prepared the poll so each question allowed a choice of the same five answers showing a range of support or dissent. Sometimes we asked about one issue in multiple ways, to be sure answers were consistent and within the limits of such an exercise, to reveal all opinions that poll takers wished to offer.
Of course no poll is remotely perfect, but this one, we think, does a pretty good job of discerning broad central views about a wide range of political beliefs, and especially showing broad support or dissent.
Of course, the main thing about polls is that they tell you mostly about those who took them. If the number is respondents is very large, you learn more. If the set of respondents is representative of some larger group, again, you learn more by extrapolating from the respondent’s answers to the opinions of the rest of the group – rather like election polls.
We think our group of poll takers – though self selected since anyone who uses ZCom can sign up and take the poll – is still somewhat though certainly not precisely representative of the community of ZCom users. On the other hand, our group of poll takers is not very large, regrettably, with about 360 people having taken the poll so far, as I write this.
One thing that is particularly indicative of the relevance of the group of respondents is that the summary for all the poll takers – is almost the same as the summary for just the Resoc participants who took the poll. This is actually quite remarkable – since the pool from which the latter group "selected itself" is 350 invited participants in Resoc, and the pool from which the former group "selected itself" is roughly 400,000 ZCom users. The first question, and its answers, is very typical of how closely the two groups match and I think it is fair to say that this match suggests that results were everyone in the two pools were to reply, while the overall statistics would no doubt change some, it would not be all that much.
We hope more people will take the poll so instead of surmising, we will have more actual evidence. From those who have taken it, we have heard over and over that it was an enjoyable and also provocative and enlightening experience, causing people to have to think about matters they often take for granted. You can take the poll a bit at a time, if you want. You can change your answers anytime, if your views change. Your answers are automatically added to the overall poll tally, and you can also toggle on if you want to make your own personal answers visible.
Finally, below is a current summary of results. To see details of each answer, visit the Poll Pages, please.
First, however, here is the first question, with its current answers. This shows you the approach of the poll as well as how you would see cumulative results on the poll pages. All 100 questions take this same form – a view is asserted, and then five choices about one’s reaction to that view. If you visit the poll pages and click to see accumulated responses, you will see accumulated answers, displayed similarly, for all questions in the poll,
1a. A broad left I would most like to be part of would reject capitalism.
1. I agree strongly: All: 67% | Just Resoc: 70%
2. I agree: All: 24% | Just Resoc: 20%
3. I am marginally concerned: All: 7% | Just Resoc: 9%
4. I disagree : All: 2% | Just Resoc: 0%
5. I disagree strongly: All: 1% | Just Resoc: 2%
Here, I provide a very rough summary of the results, as I read them, using broad terms. “Overwhelming,” for example, most often means over 95%, though covers down to over 90% and up to 99%. 100% is called “universally.” Very Strong tends to mean 80% to 90%, but in a very few cases applies down to 75%.
In almost all cases deviations from the very strong or overwhelming sentiment is people who say they don’t have much opinion or people who dissent, but not really strongly. In short, as you read below, as I read the poll there is an incredibly high degree of unity – far more than anyone ever seems to anticipate – among this audience.
Section One – overarching views
The whole ZCom community and the Resoc community both seem to be overwhelmingly anti capitalist. Equally overwhelmingly, both groups would like to transcend 20th century socialism. Also the two groups favor having vision guide strategy and trying to incorporate in present practices relations favored for the future.
Both groups strongly favor focusing on economics/class, politics, culture/race, kinship/gender, ecology, and international relations without privileging any one focus above the rest., though a significant minority also say that economics is more important than the rest.
Both groups have mixed opinions about strategy with most people thinking it is overwhelmingly contextual but also significant minorities thinking it is in considerable degree a matter of overarching principles that universally apply.
Both groups are unsurprisingly overwhelmingly against inflexible doctrine, etc.
Section Two – Points Bearing on Political Vision for a New Society
Both groups, all respondents and just resoc respondents, overwhelmingly agree that a political system they would favor would opt for institutions run by all citizens not by a small group, but would also advocate checks on the majority to avoid a majoritarian dictatorship.
Likewise both groups agree overwhelmingly that a political system should opt for institutions that facilitate all citizens deliberating sufficiently to arrive at well-considered views and to participate in decision-making in all realms, including utilizing transparent mechanisms to carry out decisions and assess that they have been carried out correctly.
Somewhat surprisingly, both groups overwhelmingly supported that a political system should opt for institutions that convey to all citizens a say in legislative decisions proportionate to effects on them whether the institutions achieve this via grassroots assemblies/councils, or communes, via various forms of direct participation or of representation and delegation, and/or via voting options such as majority rule, some other voting algorithm, or consensus, etc., choosing among all available options as needed to attain self management. However, on other questions a significant subset also said they favored majority rule or consensus all the time, or even apportioning greater say to experts, thereby calling into some question this result.
Both groups agreed – 100% – that we should favor institutions that offer maximum civil liberties to all, including freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, organizing political parties and other organizations, and especially protesting, also allowing for diversity so individuals and groups can pursue their own priorities so long as doing so does not interfere with the same rights accorded to others
Also overwhelmingly both groups favored that a political system should opt for institutions that build solidarity among people and that fairly, peacefully, and constructively adjudicate disputes and deal with violations of social norms and laws, all in pursuit of both justice and rehabilitation – and they also overwhelmingly support as a priority all community members contributing to solving problems and exploring possibilities in the political sphere – to ensure that in the future there are no political hierarchies that privilege some citizens over others, and that there are optimal political structures for fulfilling social desires.
Section Three – Points Bearing on Economic Vision for a New Society
Both groups, all respondents and just Resoc respondents, overwhelmingly supported that an economy they would most favor would opt for institutions such that no individuals or groups of individuals own the means of production (land, mines, factories, etc.) and ownership of means of production (as compared to being affected by production) does not impact anyone’s decision making influence or share of income, However, other questions called this at least somewhat into question, with respondents sometimes indicating they would preserve private ownership to a limited degree, reducing the support for eliminating it to very strong, not overwhelming.
Both groups overwhelmingly supported that an economy I would most favor would opt for institutions such that payment for labor provides everyone morally fair shares of the social output and economically and socially effective incentives.
Exploring that point, both groups overwhelmingly rejected earning income from property – profits. Both overwhelmingly rejected earning income due to bargaining power. Both also overwhelmingly agreed with rejecting payment according to the value of personal output, agreeing that individuals should not earn more by virtue of the luck of having highly productive genetic capacities or of being employed in a sector that is organizationally, technically, or otherwise able to produce more valuable outputs – though about 10% did dissent on this point.
Interestingly, the overall community very strongly supported, and Resocers overwhelmingly supported that an economy that I would most favor would opt for institutions such that workers who work longer at socially valued labor, including their own training, earn proportionately more for doing so. Duration is remunerated. And the same held for this assertion: An economy that I would most favor would opt for institutions that pay workers who work harder at socially valued labor more for doing so. Intensity is remunerated. In both cases, moreover, the dissenters were not mostly opposed, just seemingly unsure or unconcerned.
Next, strikingly, the two communities overwhelmingly agreed that an economy that I would most favor would opt for institutions that pay workers who work under more onerous conditions more for doing so. Onerousness of work is remunerated and the two groups nearly universally agreeed on providing those who are unable to work a full and fair share nonetheless. Incapacity is not penalized.
Also strikingly, the large group of all respondents very strongly and the Resoc group overwhelmingly rejected that an economy that I would most favor would opt for institutions that acknowledge that efficient production requires centralized workplace decision making by those relative few employees who are best able to arrive at good decisions. They both universally agreed, instead, that an economy that I would most favor would reject authoritarian workplace decision-making by any elite operating above the workforce and would instead favor workers control, in one form or another.
Again, very strikingly, both groups overwhelmingly agreed that an economy that I would most favor would opt for workers having a say in decisions, to the extent possible, and over time, proportionate to effects on them, where this is sometimes best attained by majority rule, sometimes by consensus, etc., in accord with diverse conditions and the characteristics of different broad types of decisions.
It was also quite striking that both groups overwhelmingly rejected the corporate division of labor that has heretofore characterized both capitalist and 20th century socialist economies. They rejected, that is, as stated in the question, having roughly a fifth of the workforce do overwhelmingly empowering tasks and four fifths do overwhelmingly rote, repetitive, and, in any event, disempowering tasks. Further, pretty incredibly, the two groups universally agreed that an economy that I would most favor would explicitly seek institutions that deliver to each worker conditions of work suitable for him or her to be sufficiently confident, informed, and empowered to participate effectively in decision making, whether this be balanced job complexes or some other even more suitable design of work.
Also incredibly, the full group and Resocers both very strongly supported the view that a they would reject both central planning and markets since each alone, and the two together, generate class rule, authoritarianism, alienation, impoverishment, ecological calamity, etc. Even more striking they both overwhelmingly supported the view that an economy that I would most favor would seek in place of markets and central planning decentralized planning consistent with self-management, whether this be cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs by workers and consumers councils, called participatory planning, or some other method.
Finally, both groups universally supported that an economy should support all community members to keep solving problems and exploring possibilities that emerge in the economic sphere – with the aim of ensuring that in the future there are no class hierarchies that privilege some over others, and that there are optimal economic structures for fulfilling social desires.
Section Four – Points Bearing on Gender and Kin Vision for a New Society
Both the whole group of respondents and only the Resocers overwhelmingly agreed that a new kinship system I would most favor would seek institutions that do not privilege certain relationships or family formations over others and seek institutions that actively support all types of families that are consistent with society’s other broad norms and practices. They both universally supported that a new kinship system I would most favor would seek institutions that promote children’s well-being and that affirm society’s responsibility for all its children at the same time as affirming the right of diverse types of families to have children and to provide them with love and a sense of rootedness and belonging.
Both very strongly supported that a new kinship system I would most favor would seek institutions that minimize or eliminate use of age-based designations, preferring non-arbitrary means for determining when an individual is old enough, or young enough, to participate in certain economic, political or other activities, or to receive certain benefits/privileges. There was, however, about a fifth who had no view either way, on this. They also both very strongly supported that a new kinship system I would most favor would respect marriage and other lasting relations among adults as religious, cultural, or social practices, but it would oppose the idea of legal marriage as a way to gain financial benefits or social status. Again, the main dissent wasn’t dissent, but neutrality.
Interestingly, both groups universally supported that a new kinship system I would most favor would seek institutions that respect care giving as a socially valuable function and including ensuring that it doesn’t disproportionately fall on women. They each also strongly supported that a new kinship system I would most favor would seek institutions that make care giving a part of every citizen’s social responsibilities.
Both groups nearly universally supported that a new kinship system I would most favor would seek institutions that affirm diverse expressions of sexual pleasure, personal identity, and mutual intimacy while ensuring each person honors the autonomy, humanity, and rights of others. They also nearly universally supported (only dissent was small disinterest) that a new kinship system I would most favor would seek institutions that provide diverse, empowering education about sex, as about all social relations and that a new kinship system I would most favor would support legal prohibitions against any kind of non-consensual sex and of course that, a new kinship system I would most favor would support all community members to keep solving problems and exploring possibilities that emerge in kinship – to ensure that in the future no advantages or disadvantages accompany gender or sexual categories.
Section Five – Points Bearing on Ecological Vision for a New Society
Both groups overwhelmingly indicated that a new ecological attitude and arrangement I would most favor would seek institutions that will account for the full ecological costs and benefits of economic and social choices so that future populations can themselves make informed choices about levels of production and consumption, duration of work, self reliance, energy use and harvesting, and other green aims as part of their freely made decisions about future economic policy.
There was very strong support that a new ecological attitude and arrangement I would most favor would seek institutions that allow future citizens to adopt policies regarding animal rights, vegetarianism, or veganism, etc., that transcend sustainability, and even husbandry, in accord with their ecological preferences their broader agendas for other social and economic functions, as they freely decide for themselves in future settings – though about a fifth or respondents were indifferent.
Section Six – Points Bearing on Culture and Community Vision for a New Society
Both groups, all respondents and just Resocers, overwhelmingly supported that a new culture I would most favor would seek institutions that ensure people can have multiple cultural and social identifies where which identity is most important to any particular person at any particular time will depend on the person’s situation and assessments.
Interestingly, both groups very nearly universally supported that a new culture I would most favor would seek institutions that explicitly recognize that rights and values exist regardless of cultural identity, so that all people deserve self management, equity, solidarity, and liberty. A good society will protect all people’s right to affiliate freely and value diversity, yet its core values will be universal.
Both groups very strongly supported that a new culture I would most favor would seek institutions which guarantee free entry and exit for representative of all cultural communities in society. It would likewise advocate that institutions that do have free entry and exit can be under the complete discretion of their members, so long as they don’t conflict with society’s laws.
Section Seven – Points Bearing on International Relations Vision for a New Society
Both groups universally supported that international relations I would most favor would have institutions that put an end to imperialism in all its forms, colonialism, neo colonialism, neo liberalism, etc. and also overwhelmingly supported that international relations I would most favor would have institutions that are internationalist and advocate having international relations that diminish economic disparities in countries’ relative wealth while also protecting cultural and social patterns interior to each country from external violation.
Section Eight – Points Bearing on Strategy, Program, and Broad Agenda
Both groups strongly supported that strategically, a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would have certain core principles and visionary and strategic commitments that are a condition for being a member, in addition to support for program and practice, though in a subsequent question support fell off, suggesting there may be some confusion about meaning here.
There was universal agreement from both groups that strategically, a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would incorporate seeds of the future in its present projects at least regarding class, race, gender, sexual, age, and power relations, and overwhelming agreement that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would constantly grow its support and membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it claims to be aiding while also seeking unity with audiences far wider than its own membership.
There was virtually universal agreement in both groups that strategically, a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would emphasize attracting younger generations including affirmatively empowering younger members and that strategically, a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would seek programmatic change both for citizens to enjoy immediately, and to establish conditions for citizens to win more change in the future.
Both groups also universally agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would connect efforts, resources, and lessons across continents and countries, even as it also recognized that strategy for different places, and times will differ.
Both overwhelmingly agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would seek programmatic change as its affected members decide, internationally and also by country and more locally, including addressing global warming, arms control, war and peace, level and composition of output, agricultural relations, education, health care, income distribution, duration of work, gender roles, racial relations, media, law, legislation, etc., as members choose.
Both groups also overwhelmingly agree that strategically, a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would develop mechanisms that provide financial, legal, employment, and emotional support to all of its members so that members can be in a better position to participate as fully as they wish and negotiate the various challenges and sometimes negative effects of taking part in radical actions.
There was overwhelming agreement from both groups that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would as a priority work to substantially improve the life situations of its members, including aiding their feelings of self worth, their knowledge, skills, and confidence, their mental, physical, sexual, and spiritual health, and even their social ties and engagements, leisure enjoyments, etc., though there were a few percent who had no opinion, for some reason.
Both groups universally agreed, with some who did not care either way, that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would set up internal structures and define its program to facilitate everyone’s participation in the organization. This could include offering childcare at meetings and events, finding ways to reach out to those who might be immersed in kinship duties, monitoring and responding to sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia as they may be manifested internally, having diverse roles in projects suitable to people with different situations, etc.
Both also universally agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would develop means to develop, debate, disseminate, and advocate truthful news, analysis, vision, and strategy among its members and in the wider society, including needed media, means of face to face communication, etc.
The overall group overwhelmingly agreed and the Resocers universally agreed, with a very few disinterested, that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would place a very high burden of proof on utilizing violence, cultivating a decidedly non violent attitude.
On the other hand, both groups also strongly rejected ruling out violence in its practice, period, seeking for its members an unyielding pacifist attitude to violence of all kinds.
Both groups strongly supported that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would assess, case by case, engaging in electoral politics, cultivating a very cautious electoral attitude, though about 10% of each wanted to rule out electoral activity entirely.
Section Nine – Points Bearing on Organizational Structure and Policy
Both groups were split over, though in both majorities agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would seek participation, popular power, etc., in a new society, however during conditions of struggle in the present society it would internally elevate the most prepared and competent decision makers to positions of greater say and power than those less competent or prepared.
Both groups strongly agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would seek to be internally classless and self-managing including structuring itself in such a way that a minority who are initially disproportionately endowed with needed skills, information, and confidence do not form a formal or informal decision-making hierarchy, leaving less prepared members to follow orders or perform only rote work.
Both groups also very strongly agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would be ruled by its members, not by a political vanguard including conveying decision making power to each of its members without any greater power over decisions accruing to those with more capital than others or to those with more information or greater intelligence than others.
Both also overwhelmingly agreed, though with a number opting for neutrality, that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would strive to implement the self management norm that "each has say proportional to the degree they are effected" in its decision-making structures.
Both groups very strongly agreed a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would guarantee groups of members rights to organize factions and should guarantee these factions full rights of democratic debate. It would literally welcome internal debate and dissent, making room, as possible, for contrary views to exist and be tested alongside preferred views.
Both groups nearly universally agree that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would allow for diversity, so that continental, national, regional, city, and local members can respond to their own circumstances and implement their own programs, so long as their choices do not interfere with the goals of the organization as a whole or with other local groups addressing their own situations.
Both overwhelmingly agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would provide extensive opportunities for people to participate in organizational decision making including to engage in deliberation with others so as to arrive at the most well-considered decisions and including mechanisms for carrying out collective decisions and for the membership to assure that the decisions have been carried out correctly – and likewise that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would seek to provide transparency regarding any actions by any elected or delegated leaders save with a high burden of proof for secrecy of agenda from the state, etc.
Both groups universally agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would provide the membership with a mechanism to recall any leaders or representatives who the members believe are not adequately representing them and that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would provide means for fairly, peacefully, and constructively resolving internal disputes.
Strikingly, both also overwhelmingly agreed that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would apportion empowering and disempowering tasks among its members to ensure that no individuals control the organization by having a monopoly on information, etc.
Both groups strongly agreed that an international revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would be a federation of continental organizations, a continental organization would be a federation of national organizations, a national organization would be a federation of state/regional organizations, a state/regional organization would be a federation of city/town organizations, and a city/town organization would be a federation of neighborhood councils, assemblies, communes, or whatever else – and overwhelmingly agreed that an international revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would establish that decisions at any particular level such as international, national, city, etc., should primarily affect the level in question and be the right of those at that level so long as the decisions abide broader overarching agreements and don’t preclude others at the same level, or below, or above, doing likewise.
Finally, both groups overwhelmingly agreed – though with a sizable minority expressing no opinion – that a revolutionary organization I would most like to be part of would be eager to function inside an explicit new International composed of diverse parties, projects, unions, movements, etc. Within the International it would advocate its own philosophy, vision, strategy, and program, but would also seek to learn from the contrary views held by others in the International, operating in accord with shared mutually agreed norms.