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Reviewing Myself? 


I have written two recent books – *Practical Utopia* published by PM Press, and *RPS/2044* which I self published. Available for a few months, so far the two have attracted little notice.

Perhaps these books about winning a better future deserve little review, comment, or reposting. On the other hand, given the laudatory pre-publication blurbs on their jackets and at the RPS book page, maybe discussion merely requires time to percolate, or perhaps more general obstacles exist.  Whatever the cause, how might any author in my position improve the situation?

You may suggest such authors can review their own books . Who could better comment on a book than its author? But what about the psychological pitfalls of doing a selfie-review? What about being accused of overly serving your own interests? Risk that?

Practical Utopia, the first of my two new books, offers three treatments in one relatively short package. 

The first part, offers concepts deemed useful for understanding society in order to change it. It argues that economic life involves not only an owning class and a working class, but also a class between owners and workers that is empowered by its position in the division of labor. It deduces that classlessness requires ending the monopolization of property and also the monopolization of empowering circumstances. It proposes refined tools for addressing race/culture, gender/kinship, power/politics, and class/economics that emphasize the institutional basis of each of these realms. It highlights their profound influences. It tracks their intertwined tenacity.

The second of Practical Utopia’s three parts proposes shared values and envisions and advocates participatory political, economic, kinship, and cultural institutions. It favors solidarity, diversity, equity, collective self management, ecological balance, and full classlessness. 

The third part of Practical Utopia proposes strategies to accomplish its vision. It critiques undesirable reformism and it favors desirable non-reformist reform victories. It rejects self-defeating electoral missteps and it advocates productive electoral process. It castigates sectarianism and it describes anti-sectarian action and organization. It decries self-defeating violence and it advances self-augmenting non violence. It prioritizes militantly winning partial gains now in ways establishing means to militantly win a new society in the future.

Stylistically, Practical Utopia rejects dysfunctional obscurantism. It pursues accessibility. It emphasizes institutions and social relations but it glosses the personal part of the political whole. Some will like these choices, others will not. I won’t bore you with my positive assessment of the book’s intelligence or relevance, but I will urge that if Practical Utopia offers instructive insights, it certainly warrants comment. On the other hand, if Practical Utopia offers wrong, irrelevant, or redundant insights that say only what readers already widely accept or should promptly reject, it warrants criticism. 

Noam Chomsky’s Foreword to Practical Utopia ends by saying: “It is true that the future cannot be born yet. But the forms it might assume will depend on actions taken now and the visions of a future society that animate them. Few have thought as long and hard about these matters as Michael Albert, along with constructive efforts at planting the ‘seeds of the future in the present.’ What he presents here is the distillation of a life of searching thought and dedicated activism that merits great respect and close attention.”

The second recent book, RPS/2044, covers similar ground as Practical Utopia but quite differently. It meshes imagined interviews of 18 future revolutionaries into an oral history of successful struggle for a future revolutionary participatory society. Like Practical UtopiaRPS/2044 features ideas, vision, and method, but now seen through participants’ eyes. 

A union workplace organizer, a feminist community labor organizer, an assembly worker/cook electoral candidate, a sanctuary organizer, a housing and rights to the city activist, a Hollywood actor organizer electoral candidate, a nurse and a doctor health organizers, an athlete activist, a prison and legal activist, an organizer priest, a lawyer legal activist, a media worker, a feminist organization builder, an anti-war activist, a soldier organizer, a feminist anti-racist activist, a climate organizer, a student organizer, a workplace organizer, a community activist, and from among them a mayor, governor, and president report 28 years of key revolutionary events, feelings, choices, and social and human lessons leading to a next American revolution.

RPS/2044‘s protagonist is it’s process. No single hero saves society. Conflict isn’t narrowed to personal crises. Resolution is not the success or failure of a star. Diverse participants’ experiences take us from now to a better future, but the journey’s ideas and patterns, not its practitioners, are the message. 

RPS/2044 avoids proposing an unsustainable or constrictive blueprint. RPS/2044’s future history does not outpace what we can now plausibly foresee. We don’t receive a linear story, but a collage impression with just enough plausible texture to demonstrate another world is possible. 

On the other hand, while the interviewees have their own back stories, views, problems, and solutions, the book doesn’t provide them markedly different vocal patterns or recount more than a little of their own in-depth life histories. We see what one would see from interviews about a social process. Each interview and interviewee is believable unto itself. The interviewees are diverse in focus and background. However, all being members of one movement and one organization, they don’t themselves have markedly diverse accents, vocabularies, agendas, or tone.

RPS/2044’s interviewees describe and assess their experience with 27 years of boycotts, marches, sanctuaries, conventions, internal education, organizational decision making, strikes, occupations, violence and non violence, electoral work, and diverse types of dealing with differences and resolving conflicts. They recount a new world becoming our world. They live worthy lives we could live.

Again, I won’t bore you with my positive assessment. If I didn’t think RPS/2044’s mindsets and struggles were worthy as well as realistic, I wouldn’t have channeled them to our times. But I think I can confidently urge that if RPS/2044’s paths are plausible, then its emotive and personal aspect have potential to reach a wider than usual audience and to elicit a more personal than usual exploration of strategic possibilities. On the other hand, if RPS/2044’s ideas are too simple, if its participants choices are beyond human capacity, if its events contradict social dictates, or if it’s path is otherwise unimaginably unattainable, okay, then what other ideas, personal patterns, and events, should we have in mind to go forward?

Many blurbs for RPS/2044 ratify the idea that to assess, enlarge, or improve upon it makes sense. Here are four:

Writing in 1946, Albert Camus proposed that in the midst of a murderous would, wherein ‘we’re in history up to our necks,’ people could nevertheless decide to ‘give a chance for survival to later generations better equipped than we are’ by staking everything on what Camus termed a ‘formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions.’ Michael Albert bravely takes a fictional leap into a future where survival is enabled and sanity prevails. He gambles on literature, in the form of meaningful fiction, to help readers puzzle through crucial ethical questions. Once he equips himself, and us, with the fanciful chance to look back on a developing history, he clearly delights in the kind of curiosity that has motivated his earlier writings. He takes time to dwell on interesting personalities who lived through the earlier, more desperate times. With Michael Albert’s capable guidance, we flip on the switch and discover ideas and even hopes that otherwise might have been hidden. Throughout this imaginative and needed novel, the essential ethical question persists: how can we learn to live together without killing one another?

– Kathy Kelly

Michael Albert has created the most unusual and intriguing combination of prophecy, manifesto, and movement-building manual that I have ever encountered. Using the sci-fi genre of ‘future as history,’ Albert introduces a journalistic format in order to draw out lessons and potential strategies in the fight for social transformation that should be considered by any serious Left or progressive activist. It is also a book that contains the reasonable and essential optimism that is so valuable for activists in times like these. Bravo, Michael!

– Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Mike Albert is attempting here something I wouldn’t dare – a description of a revolution in the future based on the mayhem of today. Aldous Huxley and George Orwell did something similar and provided us with ways of measuring our regression. In an era when the dominant propaganda attempts to convince us we are living in an “eternal present” (‘Time magazine’), this original and wonderfully ambitious project feels like a welcome antidote.

-John Pilger

Basing himself on a lifetime of dedicated and highly productive activism and many years of detailed inquiry into the kind of society to which we should aspire, Mike Albert has now undertaken a novel and imaginative approach to leading us to think seriously about these fundamental issues and concerns – which may fade under the impact of immediate demands but should be prominent in our minds as we develop ways to deal with concerns of the moment. More than anyone I know, Mike has emphasized the need to relate long-term vision to devising practical strategies for today. This imaginative oral history from the future is a provocative and most welcome contribution to this urgent and ever-present task.

-Noam Chomsky

How many books – or articles – try to understand the world to fundamentally change it? How many advocate nice values to advance worthy institutions? How many not only address a part but the full social whole?

Perhaps the reason I know only a very few such works is many ambitious books have been given no public space. Or perhaps few such works exist. In either event, can we agree that current activism not only needs to fit our currently endured context, but to seek a desired future, so that not only a clear analysis of the present, but also a viable and worthy vision of a sought future should drive activism? 

For decades, activists have had insightful and even reasonably widely-shared analysis of many aspects of our present. For decades, activists have had feeble and barely at all shared positive institutional vision. Now we have Trump. Analysis-spurred resistance grows. Without vision, where will it arrive?

So why am I either ignorant of or there really aren’t many other books or even articles that base their programmatic suggestions on both strategic analysis of the rejected present and clearly enunciated vision of a desired future? 

It must be that among the many people who write for social change, few take up long-term vision and strategy. And it must be that for the works that do address long-term vision and strategy, among many avenues for becoming visible and many commentators able to provoke interest, few take note. 

So we can reasonably ask, why do so few writers – whether highly established or just getting going – take on the task of addressing long-term vision and strategy? And regarding those few who do, why do so many other writers wax silent about visionary efforts and why do so few outlets provide visibility for the long-term vision and associated strategy such writers propose? Finally, why doesn’t a progressive/radical audience clamor for such works rather than reading and re-reading endless reiteration of complaints about current and even past injustices or about short-term programmatic proposals but without calling for long-term justification and implication?

Many factors undoubtedly impact these results, including academic pressures to fit a mold, not wishing to risk error or criticism, urgent need to address our immediate moment, unrelenting pressure of peoples’ many responsibilities, doubting that one has anything to add, and – my pick as most important – a deep bias that nothing more than modest change is possible, so why bother.

Emotionally, all these factors undoubtedly matter greatly. I have heard each indicted by many people I have directly queried. Logically, however, each of the factors is eminently dismissible. 

For example, semester to semester academic pressure can feel overwhelming in its implications for careers, grades, etc., even if, logically, it should be ignored whenever it leads away from relevance. Similarly, while feeling disinclined to risk error and suffer denigrating criticism is eminently understandable (for writers and perhaps even for venues, though not for readers), logically this should be overcome by harder work, not by surrender. Urgency of the moment and general time pressures rightly cause writers, venues, and readers alike to feel they can only do some things, but logically this ought to promote our using our precious time to do what is in short supply, not to replicate what we already have in abundance. Feeling doubt that we have much to add is often a perfectly sensible and even an admirable reason to be mute about what others better understand, but it is logically irrelevant to our trying to provide what is needed and in short supply. And so we come to belief that “there is no alternative.” This belief, conscious or subterranean, curbs trying at all, but shouldn’t our logical and moral priority be trying to demonstrate its falseness – whether by writing, by giving visibility, or by reading/acting? To set the bar quite low, isn’t generating informed positive desire more needed than throwing another jab at carrot top?

There is another wrinkle. Writers not producing much long-term vision and strategy, venues and commentators not welcoming many efforts at offering long-term vision and strategy, and readers not clamoring for more long-term vision and strategy, together propel a mutually enforcing circle of avoidance.

That is, writers claim they want their writing to be read, so they incline away from long-term vision and strategy which won’t be reviewed or commented and isn’t sought. Venues claim they need to seek and promote what writers might deliver and what readers want to relate to, so they incline away from long-term vision and strategy that writers don’t want to provide and readers don’t want to read. Readers claim they want to seek what others will provide, promote, and read, not clamor for what will be unavailable. Each aspect enforces and is enforced by the other two.

Perhaps you have better explanations for why people write little long-term vision and strategy, or why venues solicit and feature little long-term vision and strategy, or why audiences actively seek, apply, evaluate, debate, promote, and share little long-term vision and strategy. But whatever is responsible, and however understandable and powerful those factors may be, shouldn’t writers nonetheless write, venues nonetheless solicit and emphasize, and readers nonetheless demand long-term vision and strategy so we can together share the results on the road to stronger activism and a new world?

15 Comments

  1. Lary Fuku January 24, 2018 6:23 pm 

    Michael – you are too known in narrow circles, so no matter what you write you can’t gather any more interest then you as a persona gets currently.
    i.e. talking in marketing terms – you filled your niche.

    The rest of the population are too far removed from you ideologically (for better of worse) to care about what you write.

    You are at what layman would call “put up or shut up” phase. Everyone who cares have heard enough…

    Now you have to SHOW in practice what kind of sustainable organization you can create as a model of your theory – and prove it workable
    (and not just with 2 other semi related people)

    and no hiding behind “oh but it’s not possible in the world of global capitalism” – people can small through that… amish’ve done it, kibbutz ppl have done it, Mondragon has done it, plenty of communes around the world have done their thing. SO, don’t wine about others not promoting your book – GO OUT and DO what you preach.

    • Michael albert January 24, 2018 6:29 pm 

      You seem to have missed that while I refer to my books, the essay is about a much more general dynamic.

      • Lary Fuku January 25, 2018 10:19 pm 

        nope, I got that. What you seem to be missing is that your musings are old and uninteresting. You want attention – prove that your nonsense works

        • avatar
          James January 25, 2018 11:52 pm 

          No Larry, you again miss the point in favour for Ye olde ad hominem argument, a red herring, more than likely based in some personal feelings of your own (for better or worse). The “musings” aren’t old (a relative term) at all but rather about having conversations concerning things necessary and not at all about someone gaining personal attention. Your contrary voice of course would be most welcome in them if they ever were to take place. You could of course assert such conversations never would take place and you might be right but then, well, it probably won’t stop others from trying to get them up. But if you don’t want to be constructive, even critically, , favouring arrogant personal attacks, then why not just focus on your own thing somewhere else.

    • avatar
      Matt Grind January 24, 2018 6:58 pm 

      Lary – Why don’t you go out and do what Michael preaches?

      • Lary Fuku January 25, 2018 10:17 pm 

        1. because it’s an obvious nonsense
        2. because burden of proof is on person making a hypothesis

  2. avatar
    Matt Grind January 23, 2018 6:41 pm 

    Michael,

    “I think the time people allot to reading and talking about what they already are firmly sure of, like Trump is abysmal in ninety nine ways, here, let me list them, is more than enough time to read a book, mine or others, that is about what to do, how to do it, where we can arrive.”

    Yes, it is strange. It seems to be blamable on several leading writers, such as Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein.

    When Noam occasionally talks about what to do, he says there’s lots of good ideas out there. Otherwise he spells out what is wrong in entertaining detail. I think the same charge can be laid against Klein, who has never mentioned parecon in a book as far as I can see, and neither has Noam. Noam has said looking at parecon is a good idea, but only when endorsing one of your books.

    When leading thinkers don’t talk much about what do do, and where to go, plus everyone knows that Communism is a bad idea, I guess vision is seen as a useless conversation?

    Is vision also less entertaining? I find Noam’s books entertaining a bit, as for parecon, it interested me from a philosophical bent, but it was hard to learn.

    Are people turned off by vision? Is it seen as a wacko fringe thing? Communism didn’t work, therefore all alternatives are wacko? Is that what your average radical thinks?

    “Your last comment, I am not sure what to make of it, honestly. Consider a person about to give a lot of time to writing an article, or a book, about Trump, or some single issue, or about how capital works, or the intricacies of sexism, and so on. If the person knows of a vision that they think is “nailed,” why can’t they instead write about how to attain it, or at least reference it, or express it better, etc. along with addressing what they are most involved in or moved by? And if they think there is no vision that is “nailed,” fine, why can’t they think on the problem, and either work toward “nailing” one, or at least urge that it occur? Not everyone, but someone?”

    I just meant that parecon and parpolity are not like science, where you can research and add to the knowledge base. So what’s an interested economist going to do to keep the books coming?

    However, your above comment I agree with. Why can’t leading writers talk about vision when they write an article? I’ve never understood Noam’s reason for this, and he’s the most popular radical writer on the planet.

  3. avatar
    Michael Albert January 23, 2018 4:03 pm 

    James,

    It does take effort, of course, but such effort is forthcoming for many other pursuits, I think.

    Sadly, I think you are right about testimonials and about those who did contribute them for the books I mentioned, and for other works, who say how important the pursuit is, which is better than not – but then don’t follow up. They say serious attention is warranted – but then don’t render it. In the article I list reasons interfering with progress on these fronts. The reasons, I think, apply widely.

    I also think you are right that among a very slowly growing group who now acknowledge the need for vision, and that group is growing, few take the next step to trying to provide any themselves, or even to comment on or question those that exist. Likewise, the fewer still who actually offer something they call vision – which sometimes is and sometimes isn’t actually institutional vision – rarely welcome discussion of any kind with anyone who may in the slightest disagree. I approach people seeking to debate, including giving them visibility, and they are incredulous that I would. So there is a larger issue, I think, of movement culture of interaction, or lack thereof, it seems.

    And sadly I tend to feel that for progress not just for participatory vision, but for any vision at all, you are right that “all those name activists and radicals who wrote testimonials and have an audience and are connected need to do so much more of the bulky work in this regard,” as do outreach venues, because others have so much less reach, and labor in so much greater isolation.

    You write, “LA Kaufman writes a book that can easily be connected with RPS/2044, but would she do it?” I don’t even know what that is, though I will of course look it up. But that I don’t know, says something sad about visibility across the board, another point raised in the article.

    • avatar
      James January 23, 2018 9:14 pm 

      I will just add this. Kaufman’s book is DIRECT ACTION Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. When I read it it seemed like a mirror reflection of RPS/2044. One was a history, a description of past direct action over fifty years, while the other, RPS, was a description, albeit fictional, of future action, much of it similarly direct. The difference seemed to be that RPS was adding what was lacking in Direct Action. Some sort of long term vision for a participatory society that enabled individual actions to be united under a visionary umbrella…that bloc thing you talk about, without the strength of each group’s specific focus being compromised. Of course you added connected program and strategy. But the descriptions of the different people and groups focusing on specific issues in RPS, that all came together under RPS, felt similar to those described by Kaufman.

      • avatar
        James January 25, 2018 11:31 pm 

        There is another book to throw in the mix here. Assembly, by two academic dudes, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt

        (a blurb…”Assembly
        Author Michael Hardt and Author Antonio Negri
        Heretical Thought
        * Proposes how contemporary social movements can better harness power to effect lasting change
        * Challenges the assumption that social movements must return to traditional, centralized forms of political leadership
        * Provides a new analysis of the dominance of finance and money
        * Advocates social unionism, or mixing labor organizing with social movements”)
        .

        Not so interested in their academic credentials or what they may have written before but am interested in their ideas in this book. The idea of looking for a way of building a large or mass movement, truly capable of challenging the status quoted and changing it, from what they call a pluralism of subjectivities, or rather a diverse range of autonomous groups coming together and operating horizontally and democratically, without compromising their own focus, while maintaining a leadership group that won’t fall into the usual of restoring hierarchical, top down power relations, by inverting the usual and giving strategic control to the multitude and tactical responsibility to the leadership. Something like that.

        But there is a correlation with Albert’s notion of a “bloc”, here which further seems to address an issue L.A. Kauffman ignored in her book on the history of direct action over the last fifty or so years, that of bringing a plethora of disjointed groups together with some kind of glue and longterm vision.

        Perhaps a three way discussion between Kauffman, the authors of assembly and Albert to draw out stuff, garner more attention and publicity and make a jolt on the radical left with such an odd grouping?

  4. avatar
    James January 22, 2018 10:12 pm 

    . There is something in what Matt writes. I have felt the same thing. The effort and time required on my part merely to digest what Michael has written alone, let alone all the other stuff, like Stephen Shalom and many others, can be very tiring when you feel on your own with little guidance and help. People need places to talk this stuff through and Z isn’t equipped for it.

    Albert mentions some of the people who wrote testimonials for his books, yet afterwards they appear to go silent. I have read precious little from these people regarding long term vision, program and strategy.

    Tom Wetzel, years ago, wrote an essay about unions and Parecon, a real good one. Seen nothing much since. Mark Evans did a similar thing, but little has come since.

    I read George Lakey’s essays about the need for vision. No links to Parecon, or any other vision, but a book about Viking economics. Similar comes from Richard Smith of System Change Not Climate Change. Rarely does he link to existing ideas that are in line with his own thoughts.

    I read Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics book. Nothing about Parecon. An email to her elicits no reply.

    In 2003-4, George Monbiot debates Albert about Parecon. Since then, little or nothing from him about it because he decided it was not a vision worth promoting. 14 years later he endorses Doughnut economics, which isn’t really a vision at all. Not good enough from someone in his position.

    The NSP is specifically about system change yet no publicising the existence of Practical Utopia or RPS/2044 even though earlier short essays from Albert and Hahnel were. But it is true that Alperovitz thinks Parecon is not feasible and because there are not that many practical applications of Parecon in the world, tends to ignore it, and therefore many insights. As does the Democracy Collaborative.

    David a Schwieckart thinks Parecon nonsense on stilts, loves markets as an allocation system for goods and services but not finance or labour, and isn’t fussed by pay disparities of 3-1 or even the hierarchical divisions of labour that foster such disparities, so he ignores it.

    Ted Trainer thinks there are insights to be garnered from Parecon, but prefers his hodge podgy The Simpler Way. The Voluntary Simplicity folk here in Australia tend to eschew or ignore vision like Parecon and it’s insights.

    Many anarchists also ignore Parecon on principle. I once heard a friend of mine mention Parecon to an anarchist on his radio show here in Melbourne who showed little interest in it. The host said he hadn’t heard of it but that these ideas were a dime a dozen. Which sent me into a spin considering three months before I had written an email to him alerting him to its existence and his dime a dozen(paraphrasing) attitude was just flat wrong in this case.

    The p2pers don’t like models like Parecon. Michel Bauwens isn’t enamoured of even p2p type models like Christian Siefkes’ and favours things like self emergence.

    Inclusive Democracy stands alone in Europe. Somewhat isolated from most things. Takis Fotopoulos seems not particularly enamoured of Parecon or Z.

    DiEM 25 is inclined towards achieving democracy alone and offers up the bandiad of a basic income in the economic sphere, which is no vision.

    Chomsky mentions Parecon and the NSP here and there but not that much.

    Paul Street favours eco-socialism but doesn’t clarify what that really is. Mentions Kovel now and then, but Kovel stands over ‘there’, with his own ideas, separate from most else. Street rarely writes on vision and connected strategy.

    Social ecology is its own thing. Parecon insights could be of benefit to it but there is a tendency in all those who offer up vision, towards purity. Libertarian Municipalism is mainly a type of polity.

    EriK Olin Wright and Robin Hahnel wrote a great little book about vision, Alternatives to Capitalism, which is something that could provide a kind of blueprint for the type of ongoing needed discussion surrounding vision. But alas….

    I talk about this shit all the time to people. But if I talk about Parecon, if given the chance, I feel an obligation to mention other visionary ideas. It gets very confusing for listeners and hard on one’s memory. It is extremely tiring reading about it all, let alone feeling confident with the material or that my preference towards something Parecon is well grounded.

    That is why I feel all those name activists and radicals who wrote testimonials and have an audience and are connected need to do so much more of the bulky work in this regard.

    LA Kaufman writes a book that can easily be connected with RPS/2044, but would she do it?

    People like Matt above stand in the wilderness alone, trying hard to promote ideas like Parecon without much help from the more seasoned.

    Testimonials are like signing autographs. The people asked to write them are asked because they are well known within certain circles. They need to do more.

    I grow tired of these essays from Michael. Where’s the response from Fletcher, Chomsky, Kelly, Pilger and others.

    • avatar
      Matt Grind January 23, 2018 6:56 pm 

      James, what you say about difficulties in talking to people about parecon is interesting to me. I notice the same resistance or lack of interest, and the same difficulty in explaining it. It is a hard concept to convey easily, as it engenders so many questions.

      As to why radicals are resistant to it, I can’t really fathom. I wonder if it is some sort of arrogance? Radicals think they have read enough and thought enough that they know a great deal more than anyone, therefore if parecon wasn’t among what they originally read, they dismiss it? I don’t know…

      I remember during the occupy movement, everyone was using consensus where I was, and I tried to explain that consensus was great in some circumstances, and in others was actually detrimental to democracy. After trying a bit to give examples, I realized that nobody understood me at all, least that’s what i gathered.

      I guess these ideas are alot to digest…

  5. avatar
    Matt Grind January 22, 2018 7:17 pm 

    First off, Michael, thank you for writing these books and trying as hard as you do. I certainly agree that writing about vision and strategy are worthwhile. Of course, you have done far more to engage in this noble cause over your life than I have.

    In my opinion, I think a big problem lies in just how difficult it is to come to a mental place where one might want to read a book about alternative vision and strategy. First off, one must throw off years of ingrained thinking, such as the thought that we live in a fair system, the thought that what the media is telling you ignores key questions and frames the debate in terms that favor the elite, and so on.

    It takes a lot of effort, at least it did for me, to read enough and engage enough to come to the understanding that the system sucks, and in many ways it’s the fault of a privileged few, but in other important ways it’s not their fault, those in power put on a few blinders and protect what they have. If they don’t they will be replaced. The fault lies in the system, etc. Then it took further reading and effort to read enough to understand what another system might look like.

    None of it was fun reading. Always a bit of a chore. Chomsky was always the funnest to read, I don’t know why.

    All this effort takes commitment, at least it did for me. And you have to be interested enough, for whatever reason, to do it.

    If most universities gave a course in parecon, you would of course sell far more books. It would force many to grapple with these issues in depth. However, without a course, you have to be willing to learn something approaching the content of a university course on your own.

    It’s like learning physics (math included) on your own, with no help, how many do that? With such a small audience, there is not much book demand.

    Of course, I am just talking from the perspective of someone with a background privileged enough to give me time and resources to pursue my interests, only one of which is understanding how economics and politics truly works.

    Other thoughts
    -There’s not much else to do on parecon/parpolity, you and Robin And Stephen sort of nailed it, there’s nothing to add. How can someone else write a book?

    • avatar
      Michael Albert January 23, 2018 3:45 pm 

      Matt,

      I think what you say applies, though I am not sure how much, especially with rps/2044, say, to people who aren’t longtime leftists, who aren’t radical yet, who are really upset but not informed. Sure. Thoguh my own inclination would be to say the problem is not so much difficulty in the sense of learning math equations, as difficulty in the sense of learning something that has major personal implications.

      But there are at least hundreds of thousands to whom I think what you say doesn’t apply because they are already far down the road you indicate. People in the streets, people organizing, people in some motion.

      I think the time people allot to reading and talking about what they already are firmly sure of, like Trump is abysmal in ninety nine ways, here, let me list them, is more than enough time to read a book, mine or others, that is about what to do, how to do it, where we can arrive.

      But I would agree with you that the audience that isn’t yet radical isn’t in any sense at fault.

      Your last comment, I am not sure what to make of it, honestly. Consider a person about to give a lot of time to writing an article, or a book, about Trump, or some single issue, or about how capital works, or the intricacies of sexism, and so on. If the person knows of a vision that they think is “nailed,” why can’t they instead write about how to attain it, or at least reference it, or express it better, etc. along with addressing what they are most involved in or moved by? And if they think there is no vision that is “nailed,” fine, why can’t they think on the problem, and either work toward “nailing” one, or at least urge that it occur? Not everyone, but someone?

      The whole point is, I believe we are not talking about something peripheral to accomplishing needed change, but instead something at the core of doing so. If the reason radical writers write is to contribute to winning a new world, and if winning a new world requires having vision and vision informed strategy shared by huge numbers, and if we don’t have that, then producing such substance, accessibly, isn’t an option everyone can ignore, it is a priority some significant number of people who write must tackle – and non writers must demand, and venues must solicit.

      To me radicals as a whole writing and reading and promoting overwhelmingly about Trump and the pains we feel, and the horrors that may come in the future, and so on, and nearly nothing about what we want long and mid term, and how to get it, not just in a narrow realm, but overall, tends to make all those anti Trump and anti corporate, and apocalyptic and other works we do produce have a deadening rather than an inspiring effect.

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