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Strategy for a New Society


 [ZCom's very first Live chat with Brian Dominick. We asked sustainers to watch this video of Brian presenting an outline of his strategic proposals, then on a chosen day and time, login to chat with him about it. Below is the discussion that took place.]

 Part 1 of Video for Chat 
From Left Forum 2008

Part: 1 / 2 / 3

briandominick: welcome everybody, we’re going to get started in just a few minutes

fintan: hopefully it is midnight here in dublin

chrisspannos: you’re in dublin?

fintan: yes, here with my father, colin, also a sustainer

chrisspannos: wow, welcome to the both of you!

fintan: thanks

briandominick: welcome everybody, i guess we should get started in just a minute

briandominick: as some of you may know, this is our first attempt at using this new chat feature, so this is kind of experimental

briandominick: that means you may need to bear with a few wrinkles if we encounter any, but we really appreciate you helping us get a feel for it

briandominick: chris spannos is on and will try to deal with any technical problems we have as we operate, so feel free to private chat with him by clicking his name on the right and sending him a message

briandominick: so i guess to get things rolling, i’m just going to start with a topic based on my presentation and see how interested you are in it, then when we wear one topic out, either you or i can move the converstaion along — sound good?

mattg: sound good

fintan: yes, work away!

suyie: ok

brewed: agreed

briandominick: what do folks think about my suggestion that the optimal, general strategic approach is a) grassroots and b) dual power

briandominick: (grassroots meaning we form the new society from the ground up, with everyday organizers constructing the backbone of new social structures, rather than somehow electing or otherwise empowering benevolent institutional authorities to set up new

briandominick: social structures for us. and dual power meaning we form the foundational institutions of the new society in the shadow of the current system, rather than waiting for some dramatic shift in social conditions.)

suyie: i think if will face enormous violence (both physical and from the market)

briandominick: so i guess i want to know if you all are on that page or a different one

mattg: definitally grassroots. the question i have about duel power though is the constrainst of the marketplace, etc. that is, first of all, how can building radical institutions be an asset of them, and not something dragging them down.

mattg: sorry, that was somewhat incoherent. how do these radical workplace structures survive the market?

briandominick: okay, i’m keeping notes on these responses because they’re great topics and i want you all to drive the discussin, so we’ll revisit — but right now i mostly want to focus on, basically, grassroots vs. top-down strategy

briandominick: getting a feel for whether some participants might disagree with my general approach before we move past that to the more specific questions

fintan: colin: grass roots are essential for it to be a meaningful movement, but i don’t think that rules out making use of top down reform and exploiting it to our advantage simultaneously

mattg: i think that generally, top-down reform is irrelevant in our current context. like you said in the talk. it’s probably even more difficult to elect our own hugo chavez than to build a movement (however crazy that may seem)

briandominick: grassroots dual power strategy does not preclude or overlook the potential of, say, electoral and reform-oriented activism. indeed, i expect dual power institutions would depend heavily on progress brought about by progressive legislative and policy

briandominick: changes

suyie: i think the opposite mattg, i think it’s easier to do top-down than build than to movement

briandominick: ok suyie, but you’d still need a movment in order to pressure the top-down changes right?

suyie: yes, agreed

mattg: but how does the topdown come about? are we hoping for enlightened ceos or something? the only real way to get radicals into these high places is through movement building. i guess they could go hand in hand

briandominick: if we had the political clout already, and sympathetic politicians/authoritarians in power (like chavez), then implementing a parecon would be easier than the grassroots approach

fintan: yes, exactly.

briandominick: so the hard part in that approach is actually getting that kind of authoritarian power in the first place — and we all know our system is designed to preclude that kind of thing

mattg: exactly

briandominick: there is another downside to the top-down approach, besides it maybe being harder

david12: i think i’m losing the track here. there is a dialectic at play. how can you have authoritarian parecon? it’s an oxymoron.

briandominick: and that is that having politicians, executives, technocrats etc design an economy, and be the architects of democratic institutions, seems kind of backwards

fintan: colin: nothing beneficial comes without effort and sacrifice

mattg: obviously it is extremely elitist and unlikely to seriously empower people

briandominick: david12 the parecon would not be authoritarian, but you could bring it out by authoritarian means: ie, fiat or decree

david12: fat chance, with all due respect

suyie: my nuanced view is that it is easier to mobilise people to seize the existing structures of power than to build newer competing instituions (especially when that means facing the violence of the other authoritarian sturcture)

andylucker: i agree

suyie: i think the grassroots, bottom up approach is better in the long run, just not the easier option

fintan: well, i don’t know if you could bring it about by decree, it would be meaningless. people couldnt be expected to make a sudden switch like that.

mattg: exactly, it seems like only a very deluded sense of liberatory politics could come by decree

briandominick: again, though, whether it is the hard way or not (we’re all free to disagree on that matter), whether it is effectively superior in the long run, in the event of winning, is a big question

briandominick: right, so we’re not likely to have someone decree liberatory institutions — chavez is just not going to order a classless economy in any effective way

briandominick: classlessness is only going to result from class struggle, not from on high

mattg: i mean it makes no sense: its the animal farm thing

mattg: some are more equal than others, and those people have the right to decide the equality

johnveitch: the key is public participation. to achieve that you must have a political system that gives power to every vote. some form of proportional voting. especially in the usa. that’s a critical step in my view.

briandominick: and that’s the other concern, matt — if we seize existing social structures that are hierarchical and depend on all sorts of coercive socail mechenisms, how much hope is there in transforming them?

andylucker: you don’t have to seize a workplace and leave it in tact how it was before

andylucker: the same goes for polity

briandominick: okay, so we’re willing to entertain the idea that economic revolution is only going to come from hard work by real, on the ground organizers, not by technocrats designing a system and ordering underlings to put it in place

suyie: there is some hope – if you have a vision of the society you want in advance

briandominick: and i agree same goes for polity

briandominick: however, that doesn’t mean we build a factory next to the one that already exists, does it?

andylucker: ok, i think i agree with you here…but this sounds the opposite of the dual power strategy of the video…?

briandominick: i mean at some point, to some extent, taking over workplaces is going to be vital, right?

mattg: well not a factory that makes exactly the same product

andylucker: yes

mattg: but why not start a factory that fills some need, beyond just jobs, for something

andylucker: like what?

fintan: no point in being kamikaze, it needs to be practical and realistically ambitious and while abiding by the vision and values.

briandominick: my point is that the dual power can include transformed institutions, not just alt institutioons built from scratch

briandominick: well, we orient our projects toward fulfilling real needs – -and many of the real needs of people (today and tomorrow) are the same mainstream needs that corporatoins now satisfy to some extent or another

briandominick: so we’re not just building alternative products — we’re mostly doing food, bikes, clothes, housing — the same stuff we need right now

briandominick: but we start relying more and more on alt institutions to provide for those needs

andylucker: what is our definition of alternative institutions

mattg: like the health food store

briandominick: but if there’s a factory that is ideally tooled for making bikes, organizing its workers to run the factory is always a better option than building a new factory, if it is an option

andylucker: yes

andylucker: so, just any health food store?

briandominick: alternative institutions are self-consciously alternative on several levels, but one criteria is not that they make an alternative product (like health food vs. non-health food)

mattg: oops, im sorry, i misunderstood

mattg: thats what i meant

briandominick: but they are internally democratic, owned by either the community or the workers (or nonprofit), and they are movement affiliated

fintan: alt institutions – new institutions which embody the value and vision of parecon in our everyday activities

briandominick: the structure and process of the institution is more important than the product

andylucker: oh. i thought they were just worker owned cooperatives that ran off balanced j.c.’s…

briandominick: yes fintan, though i would say new or transformed institutions

fintan: ok

briandominick: if you are worker-owned and you run on balanced job complexes, you’re alternative — but to be a dual power alternative, you also have to be movement affiliated

briandominick: you can’t just exist in a void, you have to be on board with the movement, so to speak — not just in name, but actually affiliated with other institutions that are seeking radical changes and are similarly organized

fintan: there needs to be solidarity between the alt institutions and their communities

briandominick: and keep in mind everyone, my words and sentences may sound like i’m defining all this, but i’m just putting out my ideas, which are no more valid than anyone else’s

briandominick: it’s just hard to use modifying language all the time in a chat room, so i might sound a little more dictatorial than i would normally try to

mattg: so the question i have is: how can these workplaces survive, if they are subject to market pressures? there are more than just competition as you mention in the video

briandominick: anyway, this leads us nicely to the marketplace

briandominick: ok, mattg beat me to it

andylucker: not bring us back to point 1, and i don’t want to sound dogmatic/orthodox, but i can’t help thinking trots sound more pragmatic when they talk about the ‘transitional program’ as a means of taking power. and that seems more democratic even, because

andylucker: they don’t have to compete in market

andylucker: s

briandominick: okay, i’ll address that as i transition to the market question andy

andylucker: cool, sorry for my scatter-brain

briandominick: the traditional vanguardist approaches sound more attractive to some pragmatists, and i do understand why

briandominick: i think…

briandominick: but there are lots of mitigating considerations, such as the idea that it is very hard for a cadre-oriented vanguard to decree democratic institutions, as we’ve already discussed

briandominick: these are not cadre who will even be practicing the kinds of democracy we want to implement in the long run, so what do they know about designing our workplaces and our allocation system (participatory planning)?

andylucker: what?

briandominick: we’ve already seen what vanguards do when they say, ok, folks, leave it to us, put us in power and we’ll establish new institutions

andylucker: i’m just talking about putting forth a program that seems like common sense to working people, but that capitalists will never allow

chrisspannos: clarify please andy..

andylucker: it brings out the class contradictions to public

briandominick: well, we have already put forth a program

fintan: it can’t be imposed, leadership needs to inspire not dictate

briandominick: yeah, that’s all great — but someone needs to actually create new social institutions

briandominick: fintan i agree

chrisspannos: hi all, just a quick interjection, this room is now full and others are waiting to get in, so if you’re not chatting, ior not intereted, please log out. thanks….

andylucker: brian, i watched your videos. i may send you an email…but for now, i’m gonna logout so others can enter.

briandominick: okay, the marketplace…

stevehunt: howdy from oklahoma city…

johnveitch: new social institutions – agreed – can i come back to political power. unless the ballot box in your country is effective in giving people a voice, nothing you speak about here is going to happen.

briandominick: hi steve welcome

deep_voat: mind if i listen and learn, without participating?

briandominick: if you’re interested, hang out

bryan_christopher: hello

briandominick: so matt was asking about dealing with market pressures

fintan: the ballot box is not effective which is one reason why we need new and /or transformed institutions

briandominick: and those of you who know my history know that it’s something i’ve had to deal with pretty directly

bryan_christopher: ok

chrisspannos: i am saving the chat fortunatly, so it will be availble on zcom too.

briandominick: the biggest problem is that if you are operating an alt economic institution in a way that is good to labor and good to the environment, you’re at a huge disadvantage

johnveitch: the ballot boz is very effective if you have a proper modern voting process. sadly the usa doesn’t.

briandominick: also, it is very difficult to get capital to put into motion what seems to most bankers to be a very weird way to run a business

briandominick: you guys are very welcome to have the ballot box discussion as we do this — i may or may not chime in, but i see no reason we can’t have multiple threads or that it has to center on me

briandominick: so the question matt posed earlier is, given these constraints, how can we expect to survive in the market

bryan_christopher: you’ve said that it was more the external pressure than internal structure which undermined newstandard, correct?

fintan: that’s why we need solidarity with others like minded to pool resources both practical and financial.

suyie: ok, thanks chris. just so i understand properly brian, you are saying grassroots approach using dual power (creating alt institutions with a movement behind them) and maybe take over existing institutions where you have the chance

briandominick: yes bryan that is definitely true

briandominick: there was no internal problem except that we were overworked and exhausted — but we would have been able to tolerate that if the newstandard was succeeding in the marketplace

bryan_christopher: what, other than funding constraints, were the character of those pressures?

briandominick: yes suyie that is definitely right – -but also keep in mind that our movement doesn’t take over other pple’s workplaces so much as we hope to empower workplaces to take themselves over and link up with the movement

briandominick: the problems we faced at tns, and that so many alt institutions face, is invisibility

johnveitch: thanks brian – i’m from new zealand where we do have a voting system that’s only partly broken. proportional representation gives every vote – power – and that does make a very big difference. we have eight political parties in our house.

briandominick: you encounter it on a couple of fronts — first, your competitors are dominant to such an extent that you are at best operating on the edge of their huge shadow

mattg: it seems to me that the same problems with these parecon within market workplaces are just the fundamental problems with market socialism

briandominick: but almost more insidiously, other movement-related institutions are not thrilled about the perceived competition either — real alt institutions make hierarchical, traditional left organizations look bad

stevehunt: im loggin out and will read this online, hope to talk with everyone about all this stuff soon. oklahoma city needs help! lots of progressive people here with no outside support..have a good one…

briandominick: mattg feel free to explain that a bit

mattg: how do workplaces not just reinstate managers when they are voting on docking their pay? etc.

briandominick: can u explain that matt?

fintan: you don’t take them on at their own competitive game. you grow your own organisations based on your own values and objectives but in union with others. to take the corporations on head on is suicide.

briandominick: when it comes to straight competition, for reasons i’ve already explained, it’s very hard for pareconish firms to compete mono-a-mono with traditional firms

suyie: ok brian i think the outside movement part is key here. i very much doubt we’ll have a parecon instituion that dominates the market place, just like i very much doubt we’ll have a parpol instituion that will outfight the state.

briandominick: right fintan, it is suicide to take them head on, but just growing your own organization isn’t the whole solution, right?

suyie: at some point the capitalist and politicains will attack and then it will be up to the movement to then overthrow capitalism at that point

suyie: then you can work at dismantling the state+capitalism (or democratising it, depending on how you look at it)

briandominick: right suyie, and we need to have a certain amount of stability built up by the time the state/capigalists decide to react to crush us

briandominick: but there’s a step missing, or a phase missing

fintan: right, you grow in solidarity and create an alt market place

briandominick: that’s the point at which we are actually a threat

suyie: yeah but i don’t htink it’ll be the number of alt institutions we’ll have managed to form that will be the key point. the key point will be the number in the movement

suyie: the alt institutions i feel will end up more like show pieces

suyie: until we win

briandominick: well, they can’t be just show pieces, i don’t think — i think they need to constitute actual power

briandominick: but to the extent that they do constitute actual power, they will be noticed as an actual threat

briandominick: but we still haven’t answered how we get to that point – -right now, there would be no hope

bryan_christopher: in my understanding, it is as much about developing interdeoendence of apparently distinct movements that will provide the majoritarian character of a movement.

briandominick: even making superior products — be they books or websites or bikes — will not put a parecon biz in direct competition with the big leauges

bryan_christopher: this includes alternative/pareconish business enterprises that would draw paricipation by attraction rather than promotion alone.

briandominick: yes bryan i think that is a big part

briandominick: to the extent they provide for real needs, they will be attractive, and to the extent they provide real empowering work conditions, they will be attractive

johnveitch: has anyone here actually read the news in the last month? the old system is in crisis and new rules for global management and control are going to be established. if the old power strutures are re-created we all lose.

briandominick: but let’s face it, if my local food coop were a parecon, and they were totally on board with the revolution, but tofu cost $5/lb — i’d buy my tofu at the corporate grocery store

mattg: definitally

bryan_christopher: i’ve been interested in the work of david harvey, and his affiliation with the right to the city movement’w

suyie: yeah but brian it depends on the work involved and the movement behind them. paul burrows has written about how there was high turnover at the mondragon bookstore and coffe house in winnipeg

briandominick: so the strategy within the marketplace has to be to raise the costs to our competitors and lower the costs to our allies

suyie: ok im going to log out so other people can have a look in

bryan_christopher: it is a point focus that allows various collective rights movements coalesce and come to terms with a broad critique of neo-liberalism

mattg: so this goes to my question: doesn’t a parecon buisness have anti-market structures that make it less likely to provide cheaper tofu, say?

briandominick: my statement re workplaces stands re mondragon and the new standard and any others: to the extent we can provide good working conditions, those institutions will be attractive

mattg: like it has to provide a living wage or something

bryan_christopher: if there were enough business working together toward pareconish ends…

deep_voat: me too. bye all.

bryan_christopher: then i believe you could, at some point, operate on prices outside the market

bryan_christopher: in some sectors

briandominick: the appeal of mondragon (this is the winnipeg organization mondragon not the basque system) and tns fell short

mattg: what is mondragon?

briandominick: remuneration is not commensurate to the effort and sacrifice demanded

briandominick: can someone explain the winnipeg mondragon while i discuss some other aspects?

mattg: i can just look it up

bryan_christopher: http://mondragon.ca/

briandominick: so bryan raises the idea of operating on prices (and i presume currency?) outside the traditional market, or the mainstream/dominant market

mattg: i like that idea, once there are enough buisnesses

bryan_christopher: well, alternative currency may not be essential, but sure

briandominick: that is the idea of building solidarity for alt institutions and the dual power economy through new institutions like local currency, democratic credit unions, etc — ushering people into the movement who are the workers and consumers that will keep the dual power economy running

bryan_christopher: for instance, if i grow tomatos, and provide them exclusively to a cooperative grocer

fintan: i agree that you can’t go along with the market as it would wipe you out, you have to have an alternative system to grow.

bryan_christopher: and if i was compensated based on effort a sacrifice, the market price of tomatos would not reflect what i sold them for

briandominick: well, any barter economy would quickly evolve into a currency economy, so i don’t think trading tomatoes goes very far unless we ahve some way of representing the value of those tomatoes — which could be the labor value or the use value or whatever

briandominick: ok yeah i see you see what i’m saying

mattg: sort of building a whole parecon economy, under a capitalist society

bryan_christopher: oh absolutely

briandominick: but i mean we need a way to represent that

briandominick: units of exchange other than tomatoes, and it could very well be units of exchange that supercede traditional market valuations

bryan_christopher: right

fintan: agreed

briandominick: but i don’t want to get too technical — the idea is we systemitize the alternative economy, if that’s a term

briandominick: possibly through alt currency and new institutions that help top federate pareconish businesses

briandominick: and help to provide an advantage over competitive businesses – is that clear enough for now?

bryan_christopher: yes

florianzollmann: yes

bryan_christopher: i’ve been very interested in the radical credit union idea

briandominick: the other bit of leverage we will need if our dual power economy is to become strong enough to be a threat is also extra-market

briandominick: we need other movement institutions that raise the costs to our competitors

bryan_christopher: i did an informal (not-too-scientific) survey about the idea

briandominick: the best and most obvious is the union/workers council — organizing our competitors’ workers to demand better conditions

waycharngchi: hey brian, have you ever heard from michael leung about the parecon credit union he was trying to organize?

briandominick: but ideas range from that, to using propaganda and pickets and other traditional forms of affecting our competitors that refuse to yield to pressure from their workers, or whose workers do not apply pressure

bryan_christopher: i wouldn’t call it a parecon credit union

briandominick: yeah charngchi we built his website ;-)

bryan_christopher: leung’s thing

briandominick: http://workercoopfcu.org/

waycharngchi: really? i don’t know much about it, i just played bball with him at mit

chrisspannos: how does b-bal relate to strategy?

briandominick: so what are some other ideas for raising the costs to our competitors?

waycharngchi: it doesn’t sorry haha

chrisspannos:

fintan: yes. action and propoganda to undermine the basis of corporate power and stimulate others to think about the ‘value’ of the big corporations and the ‘value’ of parecon.

briandominick: this is the part i struggle with most because i really want to be able to tell people, soon, that it makes sense to organize a parecon business

briandominick: but right now, i cannot give that advise lightly

mattg: i feel like internal workplace organizing is probably more useful than propaganda against a corporation

briandominick: i’m thinking of even more specific propaganda, fintan — like going after specific institutions and promoting of course alternative institutions (their competitors)

chrisspannos: if anyone is not really just floating and not interested in the discussion, please open up the space to let others in. although if you are enjoying just reading, that is fine too. we will also be posting the chat online in the coming days…

bryan_christopher: well, at some stage, direct action becomes an option to raise prices

briandominick: yes matt i agree, when it can be done, but sometimes it cannot

bryan_christopher: if we want to go down that road right now

florianzollmann: i suppose propaganda is more credible to if it comes from an organisation that has already implemented the desired values

mattg: by direct action i assume you mean smashing windows right?

karuncowper: hi, i’m from oz, very interesting idea’s you are proposing. we (did) have a bartercard system over here in oz, could a system like this be setup exclusively for radical maybe green ethical organisations/businesses?

bryan_christopher: not necessarily

karuncowper: (sorry im a bit behind)

briandominick: right florian, but it can also come from organizations that are outside the competing parecon business but are allies

bryan_christopher: that seems kind of coarse

florianzollmann: understand

briandominick: the problem we had at tns was that we didn’t have the resources to do our own promotion, let alone go after our competitors aggressively

mattg: yeah, i was just clarifying, i’m not aruging against it

david12: this discussion is theoretical. i am a truck driver. there are many drivers who work independently, and many more who drive for large companies, but there is no one entity that is market dominant. competition is as close to perfect as is found in

briandominick: whereas someone else might not want to make your prodiuct, but they would love to attack your corporate-sturctured competitor

briandominick: so we start to harness soldidarity in the form of counter institutions

david12: …the real world. there are few economic barriers to shippers that inhibit the substitution of one carrier for another. drivers, the workers, are therefore pressed to levels of production that are un-safe. safety would be a public benefit of more

briandominick: karun the short answer to your earlier question is yes, but it’s a little off where we’re going at the moment

david12: … benevolent policies towards workers. but is there enough concern to organize in either the workers or the public to pursue greater safety? how do you feel?

karuncowper: yes, carry on, thanks though

briandominick: david i agree with everything you sauy abt the trucking industry, and it is actually one i have long considered as a possible model for parecon institutions

florianzollmann: i wonder how u would engage to get workers in your are, who work for a local factory or so on the boat if ur institutions are not big enough tp provide workspace. is it enough to do propaganda and encourage workers to establish their own institutins?

florianzollmann: area

briandominick: the competition is sharp and harsh, and it is very unlikely that a parecon trucking company would become a huge threat — but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a great thing for the workers

carwil: truck drivers seem to have certain advantages in terms of freedom of entry for a parecon firm into the market,

briandominick: if you take the profit margin out of a structure, it could actually be one of the fields where working for a parecon firm would offer distinct advantages

carwil: but big disadvantages to developing a supportive network of customers…

carwil: since the relationship between shippers and those who send goods is much more economic and looser.

briandominick: that is right carwil, but also b2b fields in some ways offer more advantages for competitors that offer a superior product

briandominick: (sorry b2b is business to business, so shipping goods whre your customers are all other businesses, which is why carwil is rightly suggesting it’s tough to play the soldiarity angle, unless

carwil: but imagine a network of cooperative and/or parecon institutions with a customer/participant base in a metropolis. if they anchored a distribution trucker, there might be room to expand.

briandominick: or until we get to the point where we’re shipping between parecons — in which case, the tables turn

bryan_christopher: i have to log off, but i think this is a success, there should be more of these. thanks brian

carwil: can i shift to a meta-strategy question for a minute?

mattg: i’m going to give some others a chance to join, i’ll read the transcript later. thanks

briandominick: okay, someone earlier raised the idea of direct action, and of cousrse that is a tactic on the table

briandominick: yeah carwil you can shift

david12: this has been good

briandominick: i also saw something about smashing windows, which is of course one way to very directly raise costs to your competitors — though it’s also a way they can raise yours right back

carwil: there are two paths for expanding a worker-run, council-based economy, right? the competitve growth model used by the cooperative movement and…

briandominick: the better way, across the board, is to organize mass-based actions like pickets, blockades, etc, and sophisticated forms of sabotage that are not so easy for above-ground groups to replicate

carwil: the escalating takeover model represented by syndicalist factory occupations.

briandominick: i’m following carwil

karuncowper: i also have to logoff, and also think a success, my mind is racing with ideas, would like to offer audio and vid webconferencing system i have available from my work, can seat up to 20 people, will contact brian or chris directly in this regard…

carwil: the latter seem to be able to interact w/ direct action on a more immediate basis, and mobilize supporters more actively.

karuncowper: thanks all ciao for now…

briandominick: let me just say thanks at this point to everyone who has participated — i’m going to keep going for alittle while but feel free if you must run

carwil: but some who have been through them, like raoul vaneigem, argue that expansion as fast as possible is the only way to outmaneuver the state/repression.

omardahi: hello

carwil: in other words, competition is actually about convincing as many people as possible to join the movement, in the streets and in their own workplaces.

briandominick: carwil you seem to be implying there is an either/or thing

briandominick: hi omar

omardahi: hi brian; thanks for chatting with all of us today

briandominick: okay, on the matter of building support for our movement that is external to the actual institutions (the businesses), yeah, we want mass power there

carwil: if not either/or, then there’s a real tradeoff. social upheaval makes space for less legal actions, like factory takeovers to be legitimized.

florianzollmann: i will leave the room for others thanks so far, brian!

carwil: though interesting middle positions (mondragon, argentine factory takeovers of firms heading to bankruptcy) are possible too.

briandominick: well, we don’t want middle i think if we ant a real revolution

briandominick: the middle ways tend to wind up as dead ends, esp the examples you cite carwil

briandominick: but i do think that is more because of the movement they are attached to than the structures themselves or the tactics themselves

briandominick: and also because their threat is seen as limited

fintan: there is a need to go along with other ”similar’ movements but it is important to maintain own values and objectives otherwise we miss the point and dilute our vision.

briandominick: also i am not sure carwil that there is such a tradeoff as you posit, though i’m open to hearing why

omardahi: i missed a big part of this discussion, but was wondering if brian would mention something about the autonomista project in argentina and where it fits in his dual power strategy?

florianzollmann: how would you go along with movements like attac?

omardahi: sorry if this has been discussed

briandominick: factory takeovers of the most dramatic kind are indeed illegal — but there are many instances of workers buying their workplaces after they fail in the marketplace

briandominick: and that’s something we can help with if we have an organized movement

briandominick: but that’s also going to lead very quickly to the kind of crisis point where the state/capitalists bring the hammer down, so to speak

carwil: i think that’s what i meant by a middle position.

briandominick: omar, re argentina autonomist movement, it is dual power to the extent it is explicitly revolutionary

briandominick: which i think is something we can debate to little avail, but it has the markings of being a dual power if it intends to replace the dominant system

briandominick: otherwise it is just alternatives

briandominick: but that raises something that is really important that i only barely touched on in my talk

briandominick: my chapter in real utopia is much more explicit, but it bears repeating, and is a good place to sort of wrap up as our final topic

briandominick: there is bad news and good news about my revolutionary strategy

briandominick: the bad news is that it is going to be a very hard struggle if we decide to go this route and our movements begin developing dual power institutions and take on the dominant system

briandominick: but the good news is that every step of the way along that strategic path, we are building lasting institutions that leave us better than we were without them

briandominick: and this harkens back to the other big difference between the grassroots approach and the vanguardist approach

fintan: exactly. they provide examples and hope.

briandominick: i already mentioned that i think the grassroots approach stands a better chance of being successful

briandominick: (that is, we’re more likely to win)

omardahi: any thoughts on how the current crisis will influence organizing

suyie: i missed the message

briandominick: so the third advantage of the grassroots dual power approach is that even if we fall short, we haven’t fought for nothing

briandominick: even if our movement folds or is crushed, we have gained skils, and whatever institutions remain — we have something to show for our work

briandominick: whereas the vanguardist approach is all or nothing — if we don’t win state power or whatever, we have nothing to show for our efforts

briandominick: and beyond what fintan just said, about our institutions poroviding hope and examples…

briandominick: i cannot stress enough how important it is to actually provide for real needs in the here and now

marcusdenton: i really agree with that

briandominick: unlike your local yuppie-serving food coop, institutions that serve the real needs of everyday folks — i mean needs where it’s the real alternative or the only option even, not just a prettier alternative — that is when we know we’re getting somewh

omardahi: such as?

briandominick: such as a food coop that provides cheap food and is located in underserved communities

briandominick: most food coops today have latched onto the higher-class customer at the expense of the people who actually *need* an alternative

briandominick: so spend less time fussing over being perfectly organic and more time fussing over how to keep prices low and make your store accessible

omardahi: true; a good example of a coop doing positive work and meeting needs of local community is a agricultural coop in holyoke massachusetts nuestras raices

briandominick: and beyond food, we can imagine myriad industries in which real alternatives that serve real underserved communities can actually do more than just form a model or a good example

briandominick: i will look into that omar

briandominick: okay, folks, i think i’m going to wrap up about here if that’s okay

carwil: just to complicate things though, these good example efforts to raise high profile alternatives may be the best way to redirect resources into alternate modes of production.

omardahi: great; thank you brian, this was very helpful

briandominick: for those who joined partway through, chris is going to post a full transcript

carwil: thanks for the discussion.

marcusdenton: great

florianzollmann: thanks

briandominick: i agree carwil

marcusdenton: thanks brian

briandominick: this was really great — i think for a first experiment we couldn’t have hoped for much better, except the unfortunate cap on # of participants

briandominick: thank you all so much for participating

florianzollmann: thanks u as well for the discussion brian!

briandominick: i would *love* to keep this discussion going over in my forum, dominickdisc or whatever dumb name they gave it lol

omardahi: excellent idea

briandominick: okay, see you all later

chrisspannos: thanks everyone! will post a version of this chat online soon. stay tuned to zcom!

fintan: okay thanks

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