I never identified myself with leftwing politics until, sometime in the 1990’s, I read Noam Chomsky, and a short time after that, his friend and long time collaborator, Michael Albert. Much of the left, it had seemed to me, was riddled with bad ideas and hypocrisy. What these two guys, and a small group of others engaged in similar work, were pointing to seemed to me to be an authentic alternative. Albert calls this alternative a “participatory society” (hence the PS in the
title of his new book) which is a vision that has developed out of the left-libertarian tradition that, in turn, has some important strategic implications for revolutionary social transformation (hence the R in
These two questions – vision: What future do we want? and strategy: How will we get it? have dominated Albert’s political life for over 40 years. He has written many books (sometimes with others) and hundreds of articles as well as given dozens of talks on the topic. Drawing on a rich tradition, and in collaboration with others, he has developed what probably constitutes the most important set of ideas around today – ideas that could, if implemented, actually address the serious problems that the left is so good at highlighting. However, Albert’s previous presentations of these ideas have typically been in a more formal and non-fiction style (for readers who prefer this kind of thing see Albert’s Practical Utopia which is also published this year).
RPS/2044 is, then, a work of fiction. Set in the future (hence 2044 it presents an account of a successful revolution. Although the book is set in America, readers who are not based there should not be put off reading it as the themes covered are applicable to many other parts of the world. The device employed to pull off this challenging project is that of a series of interviews with a diverse group of playfully named characters (you will see what I mean when you read the
book). The book itself is made up of 30 chapters, each one covering a different theme and set of issues. These range from the rise of Trump to the issues of health, athletics, acting, media, law, campus and education, workplace design and organisation, elections, as well as the more practical issues of day-to-day organising. As you make your way through the book you will encounter, page by page, ideas and themes that have the effect of evaporating the cynicism generated by both left and rightwing dogma and the unexplored assumptions on which these depend.
If you know anything about the force of nature commonly referred to as Michael Albert you will know that this book is not intended to be read for pleasure alone. On the contrary! It is a book written to inspire an actual revolution along the lines of that described in the book. If you are looking for a nice light read rooted in romance or want to cringe at dystopian images or wonder at outer space marvels then this book is not for you! On the other hand, if you are a
dogmatic leftist or general cynic then this book is your medicine! Likewise, if you are a committed, flexible, informed activist, then this book is nourishment! If you are young and know that things are far from right in the world and looking for ideas to inform your path forward then, I would suggest, this book is especially for you!
Read it. Discuss it. Then organise: http://rps2044.org/