Reconsidering our list purpose…


Richard Moore


Some people have found the recent dialog series (re: Garden)
useful.  Someone posted an installment to Indymedia's
website, and others have cross-posted excerpts to other
lists, opening threads in other parts of cyberspace.  I
think the series has been a worthwhile exercise.

Indeed, several people have told me, over the years, that
they find responses to questions more interesting, more
engaging, than essays.  One woman even suggested that a book
in Q&A format might be a good idea.  Given that "Returning
to the Garden" is my latest version of an online "book", the
recent series is in some sense an implementation of her
suggestion for a Q&A treatment.  It begins online at:'2179'


But others have had negative reactions to the series.  I ran
across a subscriber at a Dublin conference, and he said he
found the 'Q' parts distracting, diluting the value of the
'A' parts.  His sentiments paralleled those of a subscriber
X who wrote in:

    X > I want to thank you for the work you are doing.  I have
    been subscribing to your list-serve for quite some months
    now and find your postings to be a beacon of light in a
    storm of misinformation, manufactured perceptions and
    general denial of reality.
    > 99% of your [dialog] postings are from people who miss the
    whole point or only have a grasp of a small portion of it. 
    My impression is that anyone who might subscribe to your
    site would have come in with, at least, a "left" bias and
    some awareness of the issues you have been discussing.
    > If most of these people are missing the point, how can you
    feel that a growing mass movement will lead to a better

Reader X, evidently, found the 'Q' parts to be discouraging,
while the Dublin fellow found them to be distracting. Both
seem to find my own material to be the most useful, at least
for themselves.

We must keep in mind that only a small minority of
subscribers respond to postings.  Those who don't
understand, or who disagree, are the most likely to respond.
In addition, there are many folks on the net eagerly
pushing their own ideas, and they send in responses
frequently - hoping to get air time.  I don't believe the
responses I get represent a fair characterization of reader
feelings generally.


All of this leads me to reconsider posting policy for the
near future.

Let me begin by stating my own personal goals at this time.

I want to devote my efforts to contributing to the success
of the movement, and I'd like these lists to serve that
purpose as best they can.  These kinds of movements don't
come along very often, and if we can contribute, that seems
like the best current use of our activist / political
energies.  If some of you aren't in agreement with this
purpose, then please write in and let me know why.


The obvious question then becomes, "How can we contribute?".
 Let's start with a brief assessment of the movement...

    I believe this particular movement has the ~potential~ to
    become a revolutionary movement  and I believe the movement
    is in a strong growth phase.  I also believe that the
    ~culture~ of this particular movement - decentralized,
    consensus-based, non-ideological, inclusive, radical - is
    promising.  It has the ~potential~ to enable the movement to
    develop a sensible shared vision of a better world, and a
    sensible strategic framework for victory.  And most
    important, the culture provides a robust vehicle for
    carrying out the strategy, and for avoiding co-option by a
    leadership clique with a private agenda.
    But that potential is far from realized at present.  
    The movement is radical in its thinking about economics,
    democracy, and corporate power.  But when it comes to
    getting results politically, the movement is not yet
    revolutionary - it is reformist.  The movement is still
    focusing on protesting ~at~ the regime, and on trying to
    influence public opinion, in the sense of electoral 

    In terms of vision & goals, the movement is engaged
    in discussions, as at the World Social Forum. But the
    movement is not yet carrying on these discussions closer to
    the grass roots, nor is it seeking explicitly to achieve a
    consensus vision of what can replace the current system. 
    When activists go back home from a major event, they
    typically resume their special-cause efforts - worthwhile in
    themselves, but not usually contributing that much to
    building movement consensus around strategy & vision.


How can we. as a 'list community', help move this scenario
forward?  And how can I, as moderator and as writer, best

If any of you have answers to offer, please let me know.  In
the meantime permit me to suggest two possible avenues we
could pursue.

The ~first avenue~ I would call 'Messages to the movement',
and it involves the essays I post from time to time.  My
thought here is that these essays should be targeted at the
movement generally, rather than to the members of these
lists in particular.  I'd be saying the same things, but I
wouldn't include so many quotes from subscribers, and I
wouldn't assume the reader is familiar with our recent
discussions.  As a subscriber, you'd get the same value,
hopefully, but these postings would be more suitable for
forwarding to other lists, and might in that way find their
way into some segment of 'movement consciousness'.  I know
many subscribers are activists, and involved in the
movement, and there is some hope for making a contribution
in this way.

If you agree with this avenue, then keep your finger near
the 'Forward' key for those postings.  I plan one soon on
the subject, "Does the movement need an ideology?".  The
comments you send in will continue to play a role in these
essays, from your ideas and from the questions you raise,
but only brief excerpts would be included occasionally. 
There will also be forwarded items from other lists, and
contributions from our subscribers, which are in this 'To:
The Movement' category.

The ~second avenue~ would be a discussion thread of our own
on movement goals & strategy.  Surprising as it may sound, I
have not been able to find even one single forum - anywhere
on the Internet - which is discussing either of these topics
productively and in any depth.  In fact, I find our own
discussions here to be more useful than others I've seen. 
But we can do better.

I invite you to put on your thinking caps, and to think
creatively about how the movement might achieve victory, and
about what kind of post-capitalist visions can be both
practical, and appealing to a wide majority of the world's
population.  If we can get a creative, collaborative dialog
going here, that too may be worth sharing with others.

comments and participation invited,

    btw> Thanks to several of you who have responded with ideas
    and leads re/ my own personal income needs.  In fact, a few
    discussions have been opened up regarding technical work
    that might be of benefit to the movement.  I hope these work
    out, as I'd feel much better working on those projects than
    doing jobs for corporations.  Not that I wouldn't do work
    for corporations - most of us must - but even better to be
    making a living on the green side of the fence if possible. 
    Again, many thanks for the responses.