If ever there was a figure dedicated to changing the world it is Michael Albert. And other folk on the left doing the same thing would need to wonder what they are doing if they have never heard of him. My own political development has been greatly influenced by Albert’s work. Along with people like Chomsky, Michael Albert has been a go-to when inspiration is low and are great connectors to others doing important and inspirational work. Albert lives for the movement and proves it not just by words but continually doing things. By trying things by developing ideas and if they don’t work trying something else.
His honesty through these endeavours, their effectiveness, trials, errors, successes, failures is the most important part of his contribution to the movement for change. You can almost think you know him because so much of what he speaks about resonates through the experiences that those engaged in grass roots struggle come up against constantly. He does not shy away from failure but uses it to drive coherent points that will strengthen the next part of the struggle. Continue reading
Failure is one of the most important parts of an activist life. We do not advance very far riding on highs, clutching to our successes. These things are important to have, but what gets us through failures and lifts us up when we are down is the knowledge that failure brings, knowledge that can be used and shaped into new and effective ideas. We do not do Michael Albert’s work a disservice to go on about failure because that is precisely where our strength lies. In learning what we need to do next.
So what do we do next. Do we continue along the same lines to see if something different happens? Continually protest till the government changes? Participatory Economics (Parecon) is part of Michael Albert’s lifework. A challenge to the present economic system. An attempt not to just alter it, to change it, but to replace it.
It would seem like an opportunity in the long term aims of the various struggles around the place to maybe look at some alternative economic ideas. At the end of the day what keeps many of us in constant defence mode no matter what we struggle against is constantly fighting the economic system we struggle under. Albert is one of the few working on economics within grass roots struggle that looks to making real economic change for ordinary people. Read the book, Check him on You tube, Z Mag. Some good listening explaining Parecon here: http://citystrolls.com/parecon-listen/
Another aspect of left activism which Albert speaks to which should interest us all is the lack of vision and hope in many of where we are going collectively.
“I happen to see as part of my daily activity a large proportion of what is written by social change seekers, at least in English. If I actually read it all, every day, I would wind up in an asylum or an early grave. Too much negativity to endure. Too little aspiration to bear. Too little agenda to adopt.”
So much of left energy is used up in mobilisation, speaking truth to power and describing how bad the war is, there is little left for organising, little left for vision. And particularly in taking these ideas into working class communities.
“So what is a society? In the view we are slowly elaborating, a society is the immensely rich and varied combination of a “human center,” which is us with our consciousnesses, capacities, and agendas, plus an “institutional boundary” in the form of the roles that we must fulfill or avoid as a means to gaining various ends in society. Taken this way society is like an incredible mosaic with each multifaceted part affecting and even defining all the other multifaceted parts. And how do we judge a society? We decide on the broad kinds of outcomes and relations that we desire and appreciate, and we then ask: Does society’s human base and institutional boundary, or the base and boundary in each of its social spheres, further those preferred values or violate them? Given these simple insights, a reasonable next step for becoming better able to understand societies is to refine our means for understanding each of the four social spheres as a basis for saying more about how their aspects interrelate and about change and history.” From Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desired Society.
So what are the social spheres, what are our desires for society. What ideas do we have to share with each other? Join the discussion.
This visit Michael will be talking about his new book Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desired Society (preface by Noam Chomsky and published by PM Press) and connecting it with what is going on in Scotland.
Tickets https://m.bpt.me/event/3620056 (It’s a pay what you want event or free)
The Billiard Room, Pearce Institute, 1st Floor Rear Staircase Wednesday 10 Oct 2018 6:30 PM 8:30
Michael Albert is an organiser, publisher, teacher, and author of over twenty books and hundreds of articles. He co-founded South End Press, Z Magazine, the Z Media Institute, ZNet, and various other projects, and works full time for Z Communications. He is the author, with Robin Hahnel, of the economic vision named Participatory Economics.
Event Hosted by Centre for Human Ecology
Listen To Albert on Parecon here
Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was an American activist and revolutionary, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and deputy chairman of the national BPP. Hampton and fellow Black Panther Mark Clark were killed during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois
With their 1994 battle cry, “Ya basta!” (“Enough already!”) Mexico’s Zapatista uprising became the spearhead of two convergent movements: Mexico’s movement for indigenous rights and the international movement against corporate globalization.
‘I think we have to start by admitting that we don’t have the answers. The fact that we think that taking state power is the wrong way to go does not mean that we know the right way. Probably we have to think of advancing through experiments and questions: “preguntando caminamos” — “walking we ask questions” — as the Zapatistas put it. To think of moving forward through questions rather than answers means a different sort of politics, a different sort of organization. If nobody has the answers, then we have to think not of hierarchical structures of leadership, but horizontal structures that involve everyone as much as possible.’ John Holloway
Join us on an “Enough already”, walk. Meet at Govan underground and come on a walk into town, taking in the landscape and discuss the changing social dynamic and ways we can move forward. Or just come for the stroll. All ages welcome.
Saturday 18th June. Meet 12:00 Govan Underground. Walk around two hours. Finish with tea at the Electron Club CCA Suchiehall street.
The one thing that comes out of these campaigns [Canongate] is that the peoples voices can be heard. It may take all of our energy and invention to fight the biggest banks, the fancy law firms and our own councils. (Who continuously work against our interests, using our money to fund others interests)
With only our emails, blogs and photo copiers and what meager funds we can raise – It is us who create the intelligent arguments against the
tyrannies of corporations, and the workers who sell there souls for the
mortgage payment. It is us who attempt to educate a public consumed by television and the rhetoric of market advertising – passed off in the
dailies as journalism.
The good folk of Canongate are not busybodies out to spoil ever ones
fun, or stop “progress”. They are responsible citizens, engaging in the
life of their city. They are educators who have done all the legwork,
read all the reports, produced all the relevant arguments for the public
good – and will receive no brown envelope for their efforts
I sat for a few hours on Wednesday in Edinburgh City Chambers, as about 30 odd folk round a table earned there wages clinically describing the deconstruction of hundreds of years of history for the benefit of bankers. Is this all we can expect from those paid to serve the public? Perhaps it is.
The other lesson we should be learning is it is not inevitable. We do
not need to put up with corrupt councils who reinterperate the promises
they made to get into office. We can get rid of them like we have done
many times in the past. We can also inform the new ones with the
experiences gained and lessons learned out of these kinds of campaigns. For we need as well, to tell our future representatives what we “do” want and how they should go about getting it- as well as what we “don’t” want. The importance of these struggles, even if they are not won, is – they inform us of how we build a stronger movement ready for the next battle.
But we shouldn’t be fooled into listening to the opinions of lawyers and
experts – They are to used to telling us what we can’t do. We need to
start listening to our own kind, who do the work in our “real”
interests. Some of them will be pushing buggies, some of their ideas may seem a bit strange at first – but the glow in their eyes is because they can see a vision of a better future, it is not the dull glimmer in the
eye of the bankers assistant – nor the cynical bystander.
There is nothing in our history other than, only ordinary people change
things for ordinary people – That is, once we learn to stand up and
support each other. This has always been the story of our successes. You [Canongate campaigners] are an example and inspiration towards these ideas. I congratulate you and take inspiration from your work and efforts.
Power to the Independent Republic of the Canongate
We have a powerful weapon the enemy seems to lack, creativity. Free creative thought is at the core of ideas and progressive change. If we are to change the regressive institutions in our communities and replace them with our own, we need to learn new and also share our creative skills.
How come, when there is a consensus, or agreement by most of the public, on aspects concerning: poverty; the environment, community, planning, social housing, public transport, roads, motorways – very little of what the public feel, or think, about such matters is hear.(unless the pressure is to great to be ignored)
Why is the publics opinions, in public issues, so frequently made subservient to business interests.”
The Scottish Executive’s proposal to introduce a third-party right of appeal (see link below) would be a drag on development and a disaster for Scotland, according to leading chartered-surveying firm GVA Grimley.”
Whether it concerns schools, housing, safer roads to protect our children, the obliteration of local infrastructure, to make way for another shopping mall, or slip road – If it is a “drag on development” we are silenced by the authority of the chartered surveyor.
By the law of average, aspects of public concern happening on one side of the city, should be of equal importance sooner or latter to the people on other side of the city. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Are we all heading towards the same event but using different vehicles to get there?
People might know, or have experience about one instance, and others may have knowledge about something else. The next important thing we should realise, is how these issues are sometimes significantly connected, and how we (the public) can support each other in voicing a collective opinion on these varying maters.
Do you know about “Agenda 21” “Third Party Right To appeal” “The Parks Public Consultation Document” to name but a few issues of important public interest, to all areas of the city. If you do not know about these issues, you are not any more informed than anyone else, because most people have never heard of them. What you will probably have heard of is “Glasgow City of Style“, a city wide re-branding campaign, taking up lots of rate payers money creating a glittery background to our city, (as it is parceled up and gifted to developers.) Yes you will probably have noticed “Glasgow, City of Style” as it is thrust at us from every second lamp post you pass.
But what about the issues that matter to you!
A major part of our problem is,(if and after we find out that there is a problem) we (the public) do not have a big enough loudspeaker to be heard. We are up against a business media force, with sponsorship from our government using our money, that is deafening and drowning out our voice and therefore our opinions in maters that are very important to us all.
We can not hope to compete and should not waste our energy trying to compete, with all our small individual loudspeakers, unless we combine them. We have to combine them to create a bigger noise in order take control of the microphone. Business can only hear loud noise.
Phase 1 Combined efforts:
What affects this end of the city will soon or later affect the other end of the city, and vice versa. But does this side of town know what the other side thinks, how it responds or acts in affairs that involves us all. [planning, environment, housing and such like]
N-S-E-W is an attempt by participants from all areas of the city to give some support and hope to those involved in the above and below issues and to encourage others to join the struggle to make -starting in our communities – our world, a better place to live. The following are some thoughts that might help towards a set of principals which could help consolidate a collective voice or give encouragement and support to existing groups working towards these ends.
Solidarity Bob. Hamilton
People-Building-bridges; not fly-over’s
Children – mothers – fathers – families – single parents – displaced peoples – mentally ill – homeless – gay – When we say people we mean community. When we say community we mean people.
The only thing that separates us all from poverty, are a set of circumstances. Poverty is not genetic. The lose of a job can start the spiral. The greatest loss to society through poverty, is when the dynamic of the community is lost to anti social behaviour, crime, vandalism and malnourishment. Bitterness takes the place of creativity and integration.
The only way the waged and comfortable will understand poverty, is if an attempt is made to understand, what causes poverty, through the people who suffer it, rather than dwelling on an academic assessment. A close study of the causes of poverty soon reveals other crimes of vandalism and anti social behaviour, at a higher level. These are not the crimes induced by circumstances and need. But the crimes of a administration that systematically creates poverty and a culture of fear to maintain the disparity of wealth.
The poor are always blamed for their own poverty and their failure to compete in a system where the odds are stacked against them. The waged worker is encouraged to look at poverty, not with a critical eye, but as a warning of what could happen to them if they are not careful in abiding by the rules. We then have two tiers of poverty. One is created by the lack of substance and physical nourishment and the other is the modernised, importance, producing poverty that sacrifices everything to the commodity and its cost.
It is irrational fear, lack of confidence and collective support that locks us all in our states of poverty. But united, the employed and the unemployed, we could dispel irrational fear and concentrate on the real reasons of our poverty and present the safeguards to avoid them.
We need to discuss solutions . As well as going on to each other about our problems, try expressing what you believe or think could be solutions. We are all guilty about droning on about what is wrong when we should be spending more time with each other – discussing how to put it right
All community or political issues to a greater or lesser extent, or at particular times or situation, are important. Multi issue participation is a way of increasing support, where and when it is needed most, gaining tactical experience and extending kinship in all areas of our communities. Everything is connected to everything else, no issue is an island.
Children and the young
We have a responsibility, not only as parents, but as citizens, to the future generations of children in our communities. We need to know what they think and how they view the world. We need to learn from them what we have forgotten, we need their presence to make us act sensibly. They need the benefit of our support, our history, our experience and understanding, to help them make important decisions for themselves and with respect to their future and to others around them.
Levels of involvement
Of course we are all busy, so let’s not do anything. I’m to busy to get into that stuff, what good will it do anyway? These are the questions we ask before committing ourselves to anything, But if we do not allocate some of our time and effort and sacrifice some things to the benefit of others, we will always be to busy to realise the life we dream of living, or the expectations of our children
Rejecting the state of hopelessness
We must reject the state of hopelessness. The future is bright if we have hope. The sense of permanent decline is a big part of the reason for anti-social behaviour – It’s nothing to do with me. Turn the other way. The feeling of powerlessness runs hand in hand with the feeling of hopelessness. Staying in and watching the TV or playing with your computer, is the most corruptive form of anti-social behaviour. It is this form of anti social behaviour, that is more responsible for damaged communities, rather than the minority element whose anti social behaviour of destruction and violence seems to suppress our actions as much as corporations or governments.
Maybe the latter form of behaviour could be stemmed by some improvement in the former and the perpetrators, perhaps engaged persuaded and encouraged into more creative pursuits. Our streets do not belong to violence and fear, they belong to our communities, but are a reflection of the action or lack of action in our localities.
The tyranny of waste
There is no reason why we need to rely on multi nationals for our existence. We could be easily self sufficient in our communities if we halted the deluge of consumption of useless goods. This we will need to learn anyway, as the tyranny of waste, will only last another few generations before we need to do something. As someone from the oil rich middle east dealing in renewable’s said ” The stone-age didn’t stop because we ran out of stones” Our communities will not stop prospering, because we have run out of supermarkets. In fact the reverse is probably true. They will only prosper if we do, get rid of the “super” out of markets.
This document is not meant to be anti business, although an important issue is how communities deal with aggressive business. But do we need ten supermarkets and a half dozen retail outlets with nothing in between. How many Phone shops, are there in your area, compared to a decent ironmongers, or shops selling good food at reasonable prices. What do you do if you don’t have a car, hitch-hike to the mall. Business in communities should be encouraged to flourish out of usefulness to peoples needs, not as a battleground of the conglomerates in retail consumption.
What does direct action mean? Direct action means acting directly, on the problem, or solution, as near to the source as possible. This does not mean you have to chain yourself to the lamp post or go out and get arrested. (commendable as these feats sometimes are ) It can also mean, talking and engaging with your next door neighbour about what is happening. It can mean writing a letter. It can mean speaking up. It can mean connecting with others who are involved in the questions, problems and solutions that pervade our happiness.
Recourse to law is a last option. laws are made mostly to protect the defenders of the status quo, while making lawyers rich.For every law that is passed you can guarantee someone will make a lot of money, and it will not be the people that the law was passed to protect. Courts tie up time, money and kill momentum. We need to create consensus in our community affairs and avoid the use and force of law.
Right to know and appeal
The general public have a right to know what developers and “other agents” (a generic term for “businesses”) are up to, long before the project is on its way and “a far gone conclusion”, before public consultation is sought.
The public are not businesses and should not be treated with the same competitive mentality of business; when the targets are not met; or their petitions are a day late at the council office and are there for, excluded from the debate.
The public should be encouraged to take an interest and to offer a view in matters of public concern, not treated as a minor, or financially weaker contender, to business interests. Community building is a slow organic process which needs time to develop and should neither be made to jump through the hoops of aggressive business strategies, or compete with business to survive.
Community cohesion should take precedence over time scales.
Everything from the privatisation of council housing, to business sponsorship in schools, colleges and universities .Selling off of public land. pseudo awards for cultural achievements in which the public purse is used to advertise and fund through grants to business, “Glasgow city of style” telling the poor, the unemployed and the homeless how stylish their city is.-
“The days when people have to apologise for this city are over.” Says Eddie Friel, chief executive of Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley Tourist Board ” He said the city had a history of reinventing itself according to the needs of its customers.”
There are no glossy brochures funded by the taxpayer that would allow the public to hear dissenting voices against the selling of Glasgow, to the needs of it’s “customers.” (who ever they are) There are no glossy council publications of the dissenting voices that say – Safeway, should be let no where near our schools, or that business should not determine what happens in our universities. Why not!
We have a powerful weapon the enemy seems to lack, creativity. Free creative thought is at the core of ideas and progressive change. If we are to change the regressive institutions in our communities and replace them with our own, we need to learn new and also share our creative skills. Creativity is something that needs to be understood, as something that is in practiced in our every day lives, and not something that is the sole remit of the artist. The learning process is a creative act and we need never stop learning from each other. Humour makes the struggle bearable, the heart lighter and without it we would be lost
Unless we publish them ourselves, we will not be told or reminded of our successes. Most of the achievements and reforms that have brought improvements to the lives of people in our communities, have been gained by the struggles of ordinary people.
The white government official, who signed the document that abolished slavery had slaves, but takes the credit for their emancipation. The government official who signed the law, that stopped sending children up chimney, allowed children to be exploited in his own household, but takes the credit of freeing them from servitude. The world is full of great men that get and take the credit, for the struggles of ordinary people. We need to recognise, record and study, the history of our achievements, before those who write the histories of great men, do it for us.
We need everyone to participate in the needs of our community. A group does not have to believe in a political doctrine to support an idea .Political dynamic is born out of ideas and ideas always precede politics.
Our movements are over run by men. We need to involve more of our women in our movements to share their experience, interests perspectives and ideas. There is much to do and good times could be had in the process if we learn to accept and enjoy our community involvement as part of our lifestyle, rather than only becoming a chore when things go wrong.
It is all there for the taking if we act as responsible individuals in a collective, “collection” of community.
Contact: bob at Citystrolls with links – ideas Questions