Basic Principles, a “Utopian” Vision

Basic Principles

Radical Response promotes anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-theist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-authoritarian, anti-hierarchical views. It addresses economics/class, politics, culture/race, kinship/gender, psycho-spiritual issues, ecology, international relations, the roles that the non-authoritarian leftist tradition & Buddhist thought & practice might play in transforming consciousness in order to transform oneself & the world, as well as presenting some of my original fiction, diaries & anti-art. While not being dismissive of various struggles & generally supporting & valuing them, the focus & most of my energy will center on economic/class politics & struggles for the simple reason that the most fundamental problems in daily life are centered around the manner in which one attains life’s basic necessities & how one’s life is most shaped by that struggle & the social relations engendered by that struggle. How we live, play, think, & relate to the world are primarily rooted in our position in the economy – our role in production & our role in consumption.

Radical Response is in favor of the construction of a new world that transcends 20th Century market & centrally planned socialism with a new participatory society – or participatory socialism (or libertarian communism) – that combines a decentralized classless economy, feminist kinship, intercommunalist culture, & self-managing polity consisting of a free federation of local & regional communes.

Radical change requires radical theory & practice, & this blog will flexibly explore & advocate a long-term vision sufficient to inspire & orient current activity without advocating or seeking to implement detailed blueprints that transcend the needs, knowledge, & realities of the world as it actually is. It will however, make it a point to highlight the gap between what is & what could be, given the present condition of the world. What was once considered Utopian is more than possible. The wealth, technology, infrastructure, means of production, distribution, & communication exists in the here & now for every person on the planet to have more than their basic needs met – without further destruction of our environment & without the violence, injustice, inequality, alienation, & exploitation inherent in the current capitalist system.

Social strategy & especially tactics are largely contingent on place & time & therefore will continually revise its stated views in light of new evidence including regularly updating analysis, vision, & strategy. The following is based on statements of the IOPS but slightly modified for this blog.

Core Values

*Self-Management

Decision making influence of any individual or group should be in proportion to the degree they are affected by a decision.

*Equity/Justice

Distribution of circumstances & benefits in accord with duration, intensity, & onerousness of socially valued labor, or comparable factors in other aspects of life.

*Solidarity

Creation of conditions that foster mutual aid & empathy.

*Diversity

Respect for dissent & difference, including making room for minority & dissident positions, as long as they are committed to the aforementioned basic principles, & willingness to develop & revisit earlier commitments.

*Ecological Stewardship

Care for natural habitats & environment in accord with sustainability & the thriving of diversity for species & humans.

*Internationalism

Applying the above mentioned values not merely to a society, but to the community of all societies.

Political/Governmental

Radical Response seeks new political/governmental relations that:

-facilitate all citizens deliberating sufficiently to effectively participate in decision-making.

– utilize transparent mechanisms to carry out & evaluate decisions.

– convey to all citizens a self-managing say in legislative decisions proportionate to effects on them.

-utilize grassroots assemblies, councils or communes, & direct participation or tightly citizen-controlled representation & delegation, &/or voting options such as majority rule, some other voting algorithm, or consensus, all as needed to attain self-management.

-offer maximum civil liberties to all, including freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, & organizing political parties & facilitates & protects dissent.

-promote diversity so individuals & groups can pursue their own goals consistent with not interfering with the same rights for others.

-builds solidarity & fairly, peacefully, & constructively adjudicates disputes & violations of norms & laws, seeking both justice & rehabilitation.

-support all community members contributing to solving problems & exploring possibilities to ensure that there are no political hierarchies that privilege some citizens over others.

Economic

Radical Response seeks new economic relations such that:

-no individuals or groups own productive assets such as natural resources, factories, etc., so ownership doesn’t affect anyone’s decision making influence or share of income.

-there is no payment according to property, bargaining power, or the value of personal output.

-workers who work longer or harder or at more onerous conditions doing socially valued labor (including training) earn proportionately more for doing so.

-those unable to work receive income nonetheless.

-workers have a say in decisions to the greatest extent possible, proportionate to effects on them, sometimes best attained by majority rule, sometimes by consensus or other arrangements.

-there is no corporate division of labor giving about a fifth of workers predominatly empowering tasks & four fifths mainly rote, repetitive, & obedient tasks.

-each worker enjoys conditions suitable to be sufficiently confident & informed to participate effectively in decision making, including having a socially average share of empowering tasks via suitable new designs of work.

-there is neither market competition nor top-down planning, but instead decentralized cooperative negotiation of inputs & outputs, whether accomplished by workers & consumers councils or some other suitable method.

Gender & Kin

Radical Response seeks new gender & kin relations that:

-do not privilege certain types of family formation over others but instead actively support all types of families consistent with society’s other broad norms & practices.

-promote children’s well-being & affirm society’s responsibility for all its children, including affirming the right of diverse types of families to have children & to provide them with love & a sense of rootedness & belonging.

-minimize or eliminate age-based permissions, preferring non-arbitrary means for determining when an individual is old or young enough, to participate in economic, political or other activities, or to receive benefits/privileges.

-respect marriage & other lasting relations among adults as religious, cultural, or social practices, but reject marriage as a way to gain financial benefits or social status.

-respect care giving as a valuable function including making care giving a part of every citizen’s social responsibilities, or other worthy means to ensure equitable burdens & benefits.

-affirm diverse expressions of sexual pleasure, personal identity, & mutual intimacy while ensuring that each person honors the autonomy, humanity, & rights of others.

-provide diverse, empowering sex education about sex, including legal prohibition against all non-consensual sex.

Culture & Community

Radical Response seeks a new cultural & community system that:

-ensures that people can have multiple cultural & social identities, including providing the space & resources necessary for people to positively express their identities, while recognizing as well that which identity is most important to any particular person at any particular time will depend on that person’s situation & assessments.

-explicitly recognizes that rights & values exist regardless of cultural identity, so that all people deserve self- management, equity, solidarity, & liberty, & so that while society protects all people’s right to affiliate freely & fosters diversity, its core values are universal.

-guarantees free entry & exit to & from all cultural communities in society including affirming that communities that do have free entry & exit can be under the complete self-determination of their members, so long as their policies & actions don’t conflict with society’s laws.

International

Radical Response seeks new international relations such that:

-international institutions put an end to imperialism in all its forms including colonialism, neo colonialism, neo liberalism, etc.

-international institutions are internationalist in that they diminish economic disparities in countries’ relative wealth.

-international institutions protect cultural & social patterns interior to each country from external violation.

-international relations facilitate international entwinement & ties as people desire, & thus internationalist globalization in place of corporate globalization.

Ecological

Radical Response seeks new ecological relations that:

-recognize the urgency of dealing with diverse ecological trends such as resource depletion, environmental degradation, & global warming, not only for liberation, but for survival, & that therefore facilitate ecologically sound reconstruction of society.

-account for the full ecological (& social/personal) costs & benefits of both short & long term economic & social choices, so that future populations can make informed reconstructive & then day to day choices about levels of production & consumption, duration of work, self reliance, energy use & harvesting, stewardship, pollution, climate policies, conservation, consumption, & other aims & activities as part of their freely made decisions about future policy.

-foster a consciousness of ecological connection & responsibility so that future citizens understand & respect the ecological precautionary principle & are also well prepared to decide policies regarding animal rights, vegetarianism, or other matters that transcend sustainability, consistently with their ecological preferences & with their broader agendas for other social & economic functions.

(First Draft-more to follow-9/1/14)

Addendum: Minimum Definition of
Revolutionary Organizations

Since the only purpose of a revolutionary organization is the abolition of all existing classes in a way that does not bring about a new division of society, we consider an organization to be revolutionary if it consistently and effectively works toward the international realization of the absolute power of the workers councils, as prefigured in the experience of the proletarian revolutions of this century.

Such an organization makes an integral critique of the world, or is nothing. By integral critique we mean a comprehensive critique of all geographical areas where various forms of separate socioeconomic powers exist, as well as a comprehensive critique of all aspects of life.

Such an organization sees the beginning and end of its program in the complete decolonization of everyday life. It thus aims not at the masses’ self-management of the existing world, but at its uninterrupted transformation. It embodies the radical critique of political economy, the supersession of the commodity system and of wage labor.

Such an organization refuses to reproduce within itself any of the hierarchical conditions of the dominant world. The only limit to participating in its total democracy is that each member must have recognized and appropriated the coherence of its critique. This coherence must be both in the critical theory as such and in the relation between this theory and practical activity. The organization radically criticizes every ideology as separate power of ideas and as ideas of separate power. It is thus at the same time the negation of any remnants of religion, and of the prevailing social spectacle which, from news media to mass culture, monopolizes communication between people around their unilateral reception of images of their alienated activity. The organization dissolves any “revolutionary ideology,” unmasking it as a sign of the failure of the revolutionary project, as the private property of new specialists of power, as one more fraudulent representation setting itself above real proletarianized life.

Since the ultimate criterion of the modern revolutionary organization is its comprehensiveness, such an organization is ultimately a critique of politics. It must explicitly aim to dissolve itself as a separate organization at its moment of victory.

SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL
July 1966

from the Situationist International Anthology

 

4 thoughts on “Basic Principles, a “Utopian” Vision

    1. I like to think of the entire anti-authoritarian leftist tradition as so many tools and weapons in the struggle against the system, so unlike many anarchists, I highly value Marx’s contributions and embrace many of his key concepts. Some form of bottom-up council communism where local regions federate horizontally with one another and also associate vertically with larger regions when problems can only be solved beyond the local level, is in my view the best outline of a future society. So call it libertarian communism, since it’s open to more than just anarchist thinkers and ideas…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree. I prefer the term libertarian socialism though. Anarchism, while claiming to be open to any and all theories/debates/opinions, has in my experience proven untrue. They completely disregard the invaluable ideas of the Marxist and Council Communist traditions, throwing out the baby with the bath water just because Mrx had issues with some anarchist ideas and because of Leninist vanguardism… I firmly believe much of Marx still provides a powerful method of analysis (historical materialism, dialectics), still remains te most systematic analysis of capitalism, and in no way is it inherently authoritarian if read and understood correctly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally agree that Marx is a very valuable thinker and however much flaws anyone could potentially point to in his works, its foundations are very strong and as a whole it remains
        a very effective tool for various kinds of analysis. It is highly valuable in economics ( non-equilibrium economics ) or sociology ( man exists and operates through network of objective social relations ) and it functions on basis of slightly different framework and terms than mainstream theories. Most of all, it provides a certain peripheral or renegade’s point of observation, which is very unwelcome though much needed in times of political correctness and common embrace of capitalism, classical liberalism and representative democracy ( which should all be thoroughly criticised by the Left instead of being almost universally accepted by it ).

        I like words of Ellen Wills: ”Whatever their limitations, Freud and Marx developed complex and subtle theories of human nature grounded in their observation of individual and social behavior. The crackpot rationalism of free-market economics merely relies on an abstract model of how people “must” behave.”

        I also like how Henri Lefebvre put it: ”Marx conceived of a path, not a model.”

        That Marxism is still very useful can be seen in many ways: it is possibly the best perspective from which to criticise postmodernism ( Fredric Jameson, David Harvey ), it predicted the cyclical occurences of economic crises in capitalism ( neoclassical economy does not predict crises at all, yet for Marxism they are inevitable in capitalism ), it denounces authoritative religion as a tool of opression not of liberation ( however there is a thing called liberation theology which is inspired by Marxism itself ), and when it appears that the economic inequality in USA is today the largest in its whole history ( can you be offered a more striking example of class warfare that this? ), it’s almost as if Marx’s spirit is screaming around ”I told you this what capitalism eventually results in”.

        So, not only is Marxism still highly useful in theoretical work, it actually continues to thrive in academy – as can be confirmed by such names as Richard D. Wollf, Slavoj Zizek, Fredric Jameson or David Harvey. This is, of course, contrary to unfounded yet popular claims that Marxism is dead or irrelevant ( or nonsense ).

        A relationship between Marxism and anarchism is undeniable and I think, it is to a large degree, quite complementary ( you can think of Marxism as a critical analysis of capitalist system and of anarchism
        as an ethical proposition of how to overcome this system and what to replace it with ). The positions you take are very close to mine. I am in favor of libertarian municipalism, libertarian Marxism, libertarian socialism, synthesis anarchism, autonomism and radical participatory democracy, to name most important ones. They form the only part of economico-political spectrum that makes sense to me and that holds any promise of coherence.

        So, there are essentially two things I mean here: Marx deserves respect and fair recognition and Marxism is a very precious intellectual accomplishment which rests on strong core and is being further developed even as I write this, which practically proves its value. I like to stand in defense of Marx, because few can judge him reasonably.

        Like

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