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Is Another World REALLY Possible?

About Us

Sketch-Pad: Then and Now

TOPIC TEAMS

Sketch-Pad: Histories of Revolutionary Emergence

1. Collective Creation

3. Mutiny on Starship Earth

4. Drafts and Exercises

DISCUSSIONS

Wiki Instructions

about-us

About Us

Another World

Is Another World REALLY Possible?

International Study Group and Collaborative Writing Project

Sponsored by Marxist Education Project and Victor Serge Foundation

Convener: Richard Greeman

Who We Are

Our ongoing Future Historians seminar has been meeting since September 24, 2017. We gather in-person at our New York studio and via teleconference with participants across a dozen time zones – from California to Moscow – including participants in Chicago, Washington DC, Vermont, Paris, and Rabat, Morocco.

Participants as of Nov 15, 2117 include: Anya Rebrii, Ukraine/NY, activist and anthropology student; Lola Girerd, Paris, writer and social psychologist; Brian Tokar, Vermont, Institute of Social Ecology, activist, author of Toward Climate Justice; Jenny Greeman, NY, actor and educator; Peter Hudis, Chicago, Marxist-humanist philosopher and activist, author of Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism and Franz Fanon: Philosopher of the Barricades; Silvia Federici, veteran feminist, author of Caliban and the Witch; Jason Hicks, NYC transit worker, union activist, DSA member, philosopher; Julia Guseva, Moscow, translator of Victor Serge, anarcho-syndicalist activist, co-founder of Praxis Center; Harry Halpin, Paris, Internet revolutionary and activist, team member World Wide Web Consortium, author of Social Semantics: The Search for Meaning on the Web; Alexei Gusev, Moscow, Historian of Russian Oppositions, Chair of Praxis Center; Maati Monjib, Rabat, Morocco, historian of Africa and press-freedom activist, currently facing five years in prison as an opponent of the monarchy; David Schwartzman, biogeochemist, DC Green Party activist, author of “Solar Communism” and Life, Temperature, and the Earth; Samuel Day Fassbinder, author of Greening the Academy and scholar of Marx and utopianism; Fred Murphy, ecosocialism group leader at the Marxist Education Project and DSA climate-justice activist; Richard Gumbo, writer, New York/New Orleans; Barry Feldman, Chicago; and Dan Hort, artistic producer and progressive entrepreneur. Our convener is Richard Greeman, veteran international socialist active in the US, France, Russia, Latin America, and North Africa; best known as translator and scholar of the Franco-Russian revolutionary writer Victor Serge (1890-1947)

At our weekly international online seminars, we Future Historians imagine that we are living in the peaceful, egalitarian, sustainable world a century from now, in 2117. Our job is to put together a centennial history book for teenagers called THEN AND NOW on the occasion of the bicentennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution. So we collectively research and discuss century-old Source Materials about capitalism’s catastrophes that were unfolding and impending in 2017, and the forms of resistance to them. Next, we weave these together to present an objective picture of the unsustainable THEN (2017). Finally, we extrapolate from the evidence to reconstruct, the different paths that led from THEN to NOW (2117), under the heading HOW?

In real life, we are individuals with varied viewpoints and backgrounds spread across the globe from L.A. to Moscow, including women and men, students, a subway track worker, a businessman, a few academics and various old radicals. Unlike many leftist groups, we don't denounce each other as traitors or deviants, although we have many differing views. Why? Well, to begin with we’ve all been dead for at least sixty years. So looking backward from the perspective of 2117, we are able see the complimentarity of the different roads (for example “reform” and “revolution”) that led to the Emergence of new societies from the shell of the old. Our picture of the future world is inclusive (of everything but capitalism), rather than exclusive, pluralist rather than sectarian.

Our process: examine the historical evidence and collectively piece together a plausible picture of our possible better world and the roads that led to it. One rule: no gods, no extra-terrestials.

Our goal: create a history textbook for the teenagers of 2017, a sort of popular utopian fiction in the tradition of Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888) and Morris' News from Nowhere, books whose popularity brought to life a new socialist movement at the end of the 19th Century. Weave together a fictional ecotopia with the potential to go viral and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Join us in betting on a possible future – even if the odds are a hundred to one! In a world spinning madly towards perdition, what have we got to lose?

Prospectus

Today's world confronts the triple challenge of climate catastrophe, nuclear holocaust, and social disintegration. All three crises are engendered by capitalism, which automatically places profit and power over human welfare and planetary survival. With the proliferation of heat waves, droughts, floods, and melting glaciers, with increasing inequality and millions of desperate refugees, with endless wars, raging epidemics, authoritarian governments, nuclear threats and nuclear accidents, one wonders whether there is even one chance in a hundred that the Earth will still be habitable a century from now.

So, let us soberly ask: Is another world REALLY possible?

Why not perform a thought experiment and see?

Let's imagine we are an international group of historians living in a peaceful, egalitarian, democratic society on a damaged, but stabilized, planet in the year 2117. Our project is to look backward a century to the benighted year 2017 and to explain how our great-grandparents got us from THEN (capitalism's death-spiral) to NOW (a livable, sustainable, global society).

Our research focuses on such questions as: “What were the potentially revolutionary elements available in the 'old world' of 2017 that enabled our sustainable 'new world' to emerge? How did these latent social, political, economic, historical, technological, intellectual, spiritual and human elements combine to overcome the capitalist world system? How did the survivors of this global struggle organize themselves to reclaim and remediate the planet?”

As imaginary 2117 historians, we deploy the same methodology that historians back in 2017 were using to explain the emergence of the unlikely, unforeseen, barely imaginable Soviet Revolution of October 1917 on its centennial. We thus remind ourselves that the two key elements that combined to make the emergence of the Soviet Republic possible were nearly invisible only a few months earlier: 1) a small, underground workers party led by doctrinaire intellectuals (the Bolsheviks), operating in a vast peasant empire; and 2) the all-but-forgotten memory of spontaneous networks of self-organized councils (soviets) of common workers during the mass strikes of 1905-06 (initially scorned by at least some of the Bolsheviks themselves).

Looking backward from 2117 at an equally unlikely 21st-century planetary transformation, we focus our research principally on the positive, potentially revolutionary tendencies, however feeble or transitory, visible in 2017 which might have combined in emergent synergy to unleash the latent power of the billions against the billionaires. To this end we quite consciously “cherry pick” promising examples (e.g., the 1997 Liverpool dockers boycott, the 2011 Arab Spring), draw out their potential, and combine them to generate a credible popular historical narrative, aimed at the youth of 2117, recounting how their grand-and great-grandmothers (and fathers) were able to come together, coordinate their struggles globally, abolish the power of capital over their lives, mitigate impending climate catastrophe, and create a new society out of the shell of the old.

For if there still remains “one chance in a hundred” to save the world from capitalist ecocide, we ought to be able to imagine it. And who knows? Maybe this positive vision of a possible better world and the possible roads leading to it will go viral, inspire people with hope, and turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

All power to the imagination!

Richard Greeman, Convener

Format

This is a “hybrid” project, combining readings and online discussions of each week’s TOPIC with a live, weekly international meeting, in-person at our New York studio and online via Google Hangouts. YouTube recordings of the weekly meetings are posted on our YouTube channel.

Readings are uploaded to the Future Historians Dropbox. Discussions take place online both via comments on the documents and through a Google Groups listserv. Send email to AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com for an invitation and access instructions.

The weekly seminar discussion takes place live in our studio in NYC and at remote locations from Moscow to L.A. Participants prepare readings and deliver short reports on the week’s topic, and we all discuss it.

Collective research: In preparation for this weekly meeting, participants at home select and share texts relevant to the given topic, using the Dropbox or listserv. These papers are then analyzed and discussed on line by all, focusing on the impending catastrophes of the early 21st century, as contrasted with the embryonic elements of a new society developing within the old: “Then” (2017) vs. “Now” (2117).

How to Participate

You can participate in a variety of ways, depending on your energy and interest. The Future Historians International Research and Collaborative Writing Project makes use of a variety of media platforms, this WIKI, a Dropbox, and a Google Groups listerv. (We are still experimenting – sometimes clumsily – with the technology: please be indulgent.)

THIS WIKI is open for all to read. It is a work in progress. Only the section THEN AND NOW (link please) is current. The draft of the proposed history book is divided into TOPICS, listed in the left-hand menu. Each of the TOPICS is (or will be) divided into three sections: THEN, NOW and HOW (they can be read in any order).

These somewhat arbitrary division into twenty-odd TOPICS permits us to organize the results of our research, our discussions, our visions of possible better worlds, and our extrapolations of roads leading to them. They represent the basic bricks that will form the book. Once they are in place, we can revisit, develop, and synthesize them.

If you want to add to the WIKI, you need to become an active member of the seminar, but suggested changes you send us at AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com will be welcomed, discussed, and perhaps incorporated.

THE ONLINE SEMINAR You can VIEW the weekly Sunday discussions live on line from 11 am to 1 pm EST (or your corresponding local time) by emailing a request for the week’s link to AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com. You can also view them later, at your convenience, on ourYouTube channel.

To participate online, you need an invitation to become a regular Member. Folks with a special interest in one or more Topics are also welcome to join us as guests for an individual session. Please email us at AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com and introduce yourself.

MEMBERSHIP normally entails a commitment to do a minimum amount of regular reading of materials submitted by other Members. We try to keep the readings SHORT. Each Member should regularly contribute research (gathering Source readings on the Topic), and writing (preparing materials to be posted on the WIKI). Normally, about 2/3 of the Members are active in any given week, depending on their other commitments and their interest in the topic.

THE DROPBOX: We have been using an online file-sharing service, Dropbox.com, with dedicated folders under each TOPIC for posting and discussing written materials, normally to be read before each meeting. Teams have been formed around each upcoming TOPIC (e.g. “Internationalism”). For access to the Future Historians Dropbox, send a request to AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com. (This process has been a bit sluggish and some find it intimidating.)

THE LISTSERV or bulletin board: We are now experimenting with email discussions on a Google Groups listserv. So far this has proved rather dynamic, as when the emails arrive people naturally respond to them and the discussion develops rapidly. These discussions will be continued in different THREADS which correspond to the TOPICS, so the results can be synthesized and added to the growing narratives of THEN, NOW and HOW? You may request to join the listserv by emailing AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com

The Research part of our task involves finding useful materials that can be adapted to our purpose, cut down to a reasonable length, and eventually incorporated as a brick in the edifice of our narrative. Particularly useful are reports of resistance, struggle, and self-organization that can be extrapolated from THEN into HOW and get us to NOW.

Up to now, when we found an interesting report or analysis on a particular topic in the form of a book or article (for example of the Food Crisis), we shared the URL and a very short summary on the weekly Reading List. If it’s long, we also copy/paste essential excerpts for all to read or produce a digest that can be adapted to the narrative on the WIKI. Now with listserv threads, perhaps the Teams can refine them for later use. We are a project under construction, still growing.

Please join us.

Let's Begin

about-us.txt · Last modified: 2017/11/14 21:35 by admin