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A Revolutionary Program

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A Revolutionary Program by Josh Fattal

Imperial wars, environmental disaster, covert operations, impoverishment, materialist hedonism, confined freedoms (schools, jails, jobs) and the social control (TV, surveillance, repression) is far from liberation. We know that neither the conservative corporate vision of an “ownership society” nor the liberal vision of bureaucratized services would realize our fullest technological, intellectual, and cultural potential. Therefore, any aspiration for liberation can ask for no less than a radical, complete transformation of the economy, the system of governance, and contemporary culture.


The Socialists’ revolutionary program is laid out in front of them: organize a political party around laborers, take over the State, and instate a dictatorship of the proletariat. But because the State is characterized by self-perpetuating violence, because it contains excessive centralization and bureaucracy, and because it presumes “the people” need some conscientized minority to govern them, Anarchists and other radicals reject the Socialists’ revolutionary program while sympathizing with their critique of capitalism and their desire for change.


But what then is another revolutionary program?

What does a revolution look like?

What will exist after the revolution?

How do we build a non-bureaucratic, non-hierarchical, nonviolent society?


Of course, there are many tributaries to the river of revolution—from direct action to ethical agriculture. Nevertheless, in the current state of affairs, a revolutionary program can change the fundamental hierarchies in our society. By organizing around true democracy and true health (in the full sense of the word), a radical agenda can have mass appeal. With the creative and energetic potential that already exists today in the United States, we can enact a truly radical agenda into mainstream America by spreading radical ideas, empowering neighborhoods, and localizing the radical agenda. It is a feasible project. It is a movement for our times and in our context—it draws on a history that has contemporary relevance.


This revolutionary program has three parts that are interconnected. There are the small consciousness-raising groups that explore reality as it is and imagine the world as they want it to be. Secondly, there are town hall meetings that enable neighborhoods to set an agenda and manage their own affairs. Thirdly, there is the Radical Popular Assembly that is open to all, and seeks radically minded activists to work collectively towards profound social change.


The consciousness-raising groups are an attempt to develop a new paradigm for thinking about the world, and to reflect on the connection between one’s ideals and actions. Paradigms are the lenses in which we see the world. These groups seek to shift currently accepted paradigms by asking a new set of questions about society. As 1970s feminist consciousness-raising groups emphasized, these groups attempt to bridge action and thought by encouraging liberating action that relate to the discussions. Also, as the French Revolutionists kept the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity alive in small cabals, these groups also seek to preserve imagination and idealism. Furthermore, this collective thought process will increase the social networks for those people interested in social change.


In addition to proliferating consciousness-raising groups, the radical program organizes and encourages town hall meetings. Town hall meetings are the direct manifestation of true democracy. While they initially will not have much governing power, they can start with moral decisions and constructive projects to improve their neighborhoods. With radical influence in these community meetings, the neighborhoods will strive towards increased self-management. Drawing on the successes of Murray Bookchin’s ideas in Vermont, this forum will politicize “the masses” by being involved in community decision making. Additionally, it serves as experiential education in true democracy.


Thirdly, the radical popular assembly has the formidable goal of unifying local leftists around local issues. The radical popular assembly will serve as a place to concentrate on serving the local communities, engaging in constructive activities, and protesting injustice. Depending on the direction of the assembly, it could respond to the neighborhood desires that are articulated in town hall meetings. In this way, radicals help neighborhoods realize their desires, and the neighborhood learns to appreciate the work and ideals of radicals. The practice of democratic assemblies and service towards community health will surely impress and inspire others.


The concentrated energy in the radical popular assembly can be focused on practical local initiatives such as a really really free market, housing squats, community gardens, intersection repair, collaborating with collective businesses, and supporting picket lines and unions. Efforts can be made to challenge the local manifestation of corporate and state power by challenging landlords, local corporations, and the military and police apparatus. With hundreds of people involved, these local actions gains political significance and media coverage. Thus, economic domination by unethical corporations, and the disempowering top-down approach to governance will come to be questioned in the mainstream.


The vision of a revolutionary program leads directly to an image of social revolution: ideas spread through small, consciousness-raising groups and the proliferation of literature; neighborhoods self-organizing, practicing  democracy, and federating together to act in common towards inevitably larger issues; all along with the continued inspiration and leg work by committed people collaborating in a popular assembly to solve problems, create a healthy culture, and spread the energy to new locales and regions.


When the revolution is over, whenever that might be, the political apparatus of federated collectives will be in place, and people will have experience in direct democracy. Furthermore, efforts towards a shorter work week, ecological restoration, cultural production, and spiritual awareness will continue as they did during the transformative process.


Current revolutionary energy is potential, we must make it kinetic. The lacking liberal imagination and the fascism tendencies of the right wing are making this obvious to more and more people. This revolutionary agenda tries to connect various streams of thought from Gandhi to Delegate Zero to Thomas Paine to bell hooks to Karl Marx to Murray Bookchin and others. By directing all these tributaries to the same revolutionary river, we encourage a free flow of ideas and practices that pursue an egalitarian, ecological society based in freedom, health, and self-management. 

"Take it easy, but take it"
-Woody Guthrie