20 Draft Theses on Liberation Preface
The theses offered below seek seek discussion and refinement to advance five overarching values:
Self managed decision making
Equitably distributed benefits and circumstances
Mutual aid and empathy
Sustainable ecological and social diversity
Part One: Liberated Long-Term Aims
One: Liberated Long-Term Aims Must Be Comprehensive
Liberated aims must address polity, economy, kinship, culture, relations to the environment, and international relations because each of these focuses is not only profoundly influential, but contributes to and even reinforces and reproduces the defining features of the rest.
Two: Liberated Polity Is Participatory
To eliminate political elitism, liberated politics will need to establish transparent mechanisms to carry out and evaluate political decisions and convey to all citizens self managing say proportionate to effects on them. That will entail establishing grassroots assemblies, councils, or communes (and federations of those); advanced public education, information, confidence, and access; and frequent direct policy participation or, when needed, re-callable representation and delegation that utilizes appropriate voting algorithms.
To benefit all equally while advancing diversity, new political institutions need to guarantee maximum civil liberties, including freedom to speak, write, worship, assemble, and organize political parties. New political institutions need to welcome, facilitate, and protect dissent, and guarantee individuals and groups means to pursue their own goals consistent with not interfering with the same rights for others.
New institutions need to foster solidarity but also provide inclusive means to fairly, peacefully, and constructively adjudicate disputes and violations of agreed norms to preserve justice while promoting rehabilitation.
Three: Liberated Gender/Sexuality Is Feminist
Liberating kinship and sexuality requires implementing new kinship institutions that ensure that no individuals or groups – by gender, sexual preference, or age – are privileged above or dominate others in income, influence, access to education, job quality, or any other dimension bearing on quality of life.
To attain that participatory end, new gender and kin institutions will respect marriage and other lasting relations among adults as religious, cultural, or social practices, but reject such ties as ways for sectors of the population to gain financial benefits or social status. They will respect care-giving as a central function of society including making care-giving a part of every citizen’s social responsibilities or otherwise ensuring equitable burdens and benefits among men and women for all household and child raising practices, for equity and for the enrichment of personality and affirmation that care-giving conveys.
New gender and kin institutions will not privilege certain types of family formation or role over others, but instead actively support all types of families consistent with society’s other broad norms and practices. They will promote children’s well-being and affirm society’s responsibility for all its children, including affirming the right of diverse types of families to have children and to provide them with love and a sense of rootedness and belonging. They will need to minimize or eliminate age- and or gender-based permissions and or restrictions, preferring non-arbitrary means for determining when an individual is too old (or too young) or otherwise able or not able to receive benefits or shoulder responsibilities.
New gender and kin institutions will also centrally affirm diverse expressions of sexual pleasure, personal identity, and mutual intimacy while ensuring that each person honors the autonomy, humanity, and rights of others including providing diverse, empowering sex education and legal prohibition against non-consensual sex.
Four: Liberated Culture/Community Is Intercommunalist
Liberating culture and community requires implementing new participatory cultural/ community institutions that ensure that no individuals or groups – by race, ethnicity, nationality, or other cultural community identification – are privileged above or dominate others.
As means to that participatory end, new cultural and community institutions will ensure that people can have multiple cultural and social identities by providing space and resources for people to positively express their identities however they choose and by simultaneously recognizing that which identity is most important to any particular person at any particular time depends on that person’s situation and assessments.
New cultural and community relations will also explicitly recognize that many rights and values exist regardless of cultural identity, so that all people deserve self management, equity, solidarity, and liberty, even while society also protects all people’s right to affiliate freely to foster diversity.
New cultural and community relations will also provide all cultural communities guaranteed access to means to preserve their cultural integrity and practices, but will also require free entry to and exit from all cultural communities, including affirming that communities that guarantee free entry and exit can be under the complete self determination of their members so long as their policies and actions don’t conflict with society’s laws.
Five: Liberated Future Economy Is Participatory
Liberating economics requires implementing new workplace and allocation institutions that ensure that no individuals or classes are privileged above or dominate others and that all economic actors are able to participate fully in determining their own economic lives.
To attain classlessness, new economic institutions will need to preclude owning productive assets such as natural resources and factories so that ownership plays no role in determining people’s’ decision-making influence or share of income.
But to attain classlessness, new economic institutions will also need to ensure that all workers have a say in decisions, to the extent possible, proportionate to effects on them, sometimes best attained by majority rule, sometimes by consensus or other arrangements.
This will entail having venues for deliberation including worker and consumer councils or assemblies and eliminating corporate divisions of labor that typically give about a fifth of workers empowering tasks while consigning to four-fifths mainly rote, repetitive, and obedient tasks. Instead of producing a class division based on differential empowerment, new institutions will need to ensure that each worker enjoys a socially average share of empowering tasks via suitable new designs of work or otherwise convey to all workers sufficient confidence, skills, information, and access to participate effectively in self- managed decision making.
Additionally, to attain equity, new economic institutions will need to ensure that workers who work longer or harder or at more onerous conditions doing socially valued labor (including training) earn a proportionately greater share of the social product, but do not earn payment according to property, bargaining power, or the value of personal output, while also ensuring that all who are unable to work nonetheless receive full income.
Likewise new economic relations will need to avoid both market competition and top- down planning, since each produces class rule, alienation, and ecological degradation among other other violations, and, in in their place, find ways to conduct decentralized cooperative negotiation of inputs and outputs via workers and consumers councils and federations of councils, with additional participatory facilitating structures as needed.
Six: Liberated International Relations Will Be Internationalist
Liberating international relations requires implementing new participatory international institutions that ensure that no nations or geographic regions are privileged above others.
As means to that participatory end, new international relations will need to end the subordination of nations in all its forms including colonialism, neo-colonialism, and neo- liberalism.
New international policy and structures will need to foster equitable internationalist globalization in place of exploitative corporate globalization including diminishing economic disparities in countries’ relative wealth, protecting cultural and social patterns interior to each country, and facilitating international entwinement as people desire.
Seven: Liberated Ecology Is Sustainable And Wise
Liberating ecological relations requires implementing new participatory ecological practices that reverse resource depletion, environmental degradation, global warming, and other ecosystem disrupting trends, not only for liberation, but for survival.
New ecological relations will facilitate ecologically sound reconstruction of society that accounts for the full ecological as well as social/personal costs and benefits of both short- and long-term economic and social choices, so future populations can sensibly decide levels of production and consumption, duration of work, self reliance, energy use and harvesting, stewardship, pollution norms, climate policies, conservation practices, consumption choices, and other future policy.
New ecological norms and practices will also foster a consciousness of ecological connection and responsibility so that future citizens understand and respect the ecological precautionary principle and are well prepared to decide policies regarding such matters as animal rights or vegetarianism that transcend sustainability.
Part Two: Liberation Organization
Eight: Liberation Requires Liberated Organization
Liberated organization is needed for groups to work effectively together with shared intentions while discovering, retaining, and collectively applying lessons from their own experiences. It facilitates learning, provides continuity, and sustains support.
Nine: Liberated Organizations Are Self Managed
To be liberated, an organization’s structure and policies need to implement the self management norm that “each member has decision making say proportional to the degree they are effected.”
To that end, a liberated organization needs to be internally classless including being structured so that a minority who are initially disproportionately equipped with needed skills, information, and confidence do not form a formal or informal decision-making hierarchy that leaves initially less-prepared members to perpetually follow orders or perform only rote tasks.
Likewise, over time, a liberated organization needs to apportion empowering and disempowering tasks to ensure that no individuals have a relative monopoly on information or position, and no subset of members has disproportionate say whether due to race, gender, class, or other attributes.
Ten: Liberated Organizations Are Diverse
A liberated organization must monitor and work to correct instances of sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia, including having diverse roles suitable to people with different backgrounds, personal priorities, and personal situations.
A liberated organization needs to celebrate internal debate and dissent and allow dissident views to exist and be tested alongside preferred views. It needs to guarantee members’ rights to organize “currents” or “caucuses” with full rights of democratic debate.
Likewise, a liberated organization needs to ensure that national, regional, city, and local chapters, as well as sectors of the organization, can respond to their own circumstances and implement their own programs as they choose so long as their choices do not interfere with the shared goals and principles of the whole organization or with other groups addressing their own situations.
Eleven: Liberated Organizations Are Participatory
A liberated organization needs to provide extensive opportunities for members to participate in organizational decision making, including engaging in deliberation with others so as to arrive at the most well-considered decisions, collectively implement decisions, and monitor that such decisions have been carried out correctly.
To those ends, a liberated organization needs to establish internal structures that facilitate everyone’s participation including, when possible, offering childcare at meetings and events, finding ways to reach out to those who might be immersed in kinship duties, and aiding those with busy work schedules due to multiple jobs.
A liberated organization needs to also provide transparency regarding all actions by elected or delegated leaders including placing a high burden of proof on keeping secret any agenda to avoid repression or for any other reason, and providing a mechanism to recall leaders or representatives who members believe are not adequately representing them, while also providing means to fairly, peacefully, and constructively resolve internal disputes.
Part Three: Liberated Organizing
Twelve: To Win Liberation Requires Liberated Organizing
To win liberation requires organizing that counters cynicism with hope, incorporates seeds of the future in the present, grows membership and commitment among the class, nationality, and sexual/gender constituencies to be liberated, and wins reforms without becoming reformist.
Thirteen: Combat Cynicism With Informed Hope
Liberated organizing realizes that doubt about the possibility of a better society is a primary impediment to people seeking change. To combat cynicism rooted in doubt and to engender informed hope is therefore a permanent liberation organizing priority.
To that end, liberated organizing always offers and clarifies the possibility and merit of vision and the efficacy of activism, even beyond indicating, detailing, and explaining the pains people currently endure and the tenacious obstacles people currently confront.
Fourteen: Plant Seeds Of The Future In The Present
Liberated organizing plants seeds of the future in the present to enhance hope, to test and refine ideas, and to learn experiential lessons to inform strategy and vision.
To plant seeds of the future in its present class, race, gender, sexual, age, and power relations, liberated organizing not only constructively addresses the ways it’s members interrelate but also actively establishes internal norms and supports building exemplary workplace, campus, and community institutions that represent and refine the values of the movement, which the organization then in turn offers as liberating alternatives to the status quo it combats.
Fifteen: Grow Membership And Commitment
To constantly grow membership among the class, nationality, and gender constituencies it aims to aid, liberated organizing needs to learn from and seek unity with audiences far wider than its own membership.
It needs to emphasize attracting and affirmatively empowering young people and to organize people currently critical and even hostile, not least by participating in, supporting, building, and aiding diverse social movements and struggles beyond its own immediate agendas, but also by explicitly directly addressing critical and even hostile constituencies in communities, on campuses, and at work.
Liberated organizing seeks, develops, debates, disseminates, and advocates truthful news, analysis, vision, and strategy among its members and especially in the wider society, including developing and sustaining needed media institutions and means of face-to-face communication as well as using diverse methods of agitation and struggle – from educational efforts to rallies, marches, demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, occupations, and diverse direct action campaigns – to win gains and build movements.
Sixteen: Seek Informed Multi-Issue, Multi-Tactic Movement Unity
To generate sustained unity, liberated organizing needs to go beyond seeking coalitions of diverse organizations and movements agreeing on a minimum focus, to develop new forms of cross-constituency and cross-issue mutuality.
New blocs of activist movements, campaigns, and organizations need to take as their shared program not a least common component of what they all individually favor, but the totality of their individual priorities, even including differences, so that each movement, campaign, and organization in the bloc aids the rest and all thereby become dramatically more powerful.
Seventeen: Win Reforms While Avoiding Reformism
Liberated organizing seeks changes in society both for citizens to enjoy immediately, and also to establish by the terms of its victories, the means used in its organizing, and the ideas broached and broadcast, a likelihood that all those involved will pursue and win more change in the future.
Liberated organizing seeks short-term changes of its own conception by its own actions, but also short term changes that others conceive by supporting other movements and projects, both internationally, by country, and also locally, including addressing such matters as global warming, arms control, war and peace, the level and composition of economic output, income, agricultural relations, education, health care, housing, income distribution, duration of work, gender roles, racial relations, immigration, policing, media, law, and legislation.
Liberated organizing wins gains to reduce oppression in the present and to prepare means, methods, and allegiances able to win more gains in the future, always leading toward liberation.
Eighteen: Be Flexible
Liberated organizing seeks to connect efforts, resources, and lessons across continents and from country to country, region to region, community to community, workplace to workplace, and campus to campus, even as it also recognizes that strategies and tactics suitable to different places and times will differ.
Liberated organizing takes a long and encompassing view, focusing not solely on immediate tactical success or failure – such as stopping a meeting, completing a march, or winning a vote – but also on broader matters such as how many new people are reached, what commitments are enlarged or enriched, and what infrastructure is created. It combines the urgency of immediate injustices that need to be righted with the patience that major long-term change requires.
Liberated organizing understands that vision orients aims, strategy informs program, and tactics implement plans. For each, it places a high burden of proof on utilizing violence, because violence is the preferred terrain of reaction and anathema for innovation. Similarly, but with a more balanced assessment, it judges the advisability of participation in electoral politics case by case, including cultivating a cautious electoral attitude because of the captivating and corrupting dynamics of electoral campaigns.
Nineteen: Support Self As Well As Others
Liberated organizing seeks to develop mechanisms that provide financial, legal, employment, and emotional support to its members so that its members can be in a better position to participate in campaigns as fully as they wish and to negotiate the various challenges and sometimes negative effects of taking part in radical actions.
Liberated organizing works 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 and leisure enjoyments. It takes a positive approach in all interpersonal and organizational matters, always seeking ways forward. Disagreements are pursued not to win against others, or elevate self, but to find ways all can progress collectively successfully. Thus minority positions are protected and preserved, as possible, in case in time they prove essential.
Twenty: Celebrate Liberated Leadership
Liberated organizing understands that we are all different and that successful insights and paths forward are found, communicated, and advocated by some people earlier than by others in acts of “leadership.” It celebrates such acts but also prioritizes finding means to ensure they do not yield lasting differential empowerment, not least by celebrating that the key contribution of any leading person or group is always elevating other persons or groups into themselves leading.
The above ideas are more fully developed in two recent books. The first is titled Practical Utopia and has three parts offering commentary on underlying concepts, vision, and strategy. The second is titled RPS/2044: An Oral History of the Next American Revolution and has eighteen participants with diverse backgrounds describe their 27 years of successful liberation organizing for a Revolutionary Participatory Society. They discuss implementing the ideas offered above – from today to the year 2044 – in vision but also tactics, in collective organizational life and in personal relations.