International Study Group and Collaborative Writing Project
sponsored by Marxist Education Project and Victor Serge Foundation / convened by Richard Greeman
Our ongoing Future Historians seminar has been meeting since September 2017. At present (November 2018) we are gathering from time to time via online teleconferencing across a dozen time zones – with participants from California to Moscow and points in between, including Paris, France; Rabat, Morocco; and Vermont, Washington DC, Chicago, and California. Videos of our past sessions are available on our YouTube Channel.
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). Future Historians include or have included: Samuel Day Fassbinder, author of Greening the Academy and scholar of Marx and utopianism; Silvia Federici, veteran feminist, author of Caliban and the Witch; Lola Girerd, Paris, writer and social psychologist; Jenny Greeman, NY, actor and educator; Alexei Gusev, Moscow, Historian of Russian Oppositions, Chair of Praxis Center; 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; Jason Hicks, NYC transit worker, union activist, DSA member, philosopher; 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; Maati Monjib, Rabat, Morocco, historian of Africa and press-freedom activist, currently facing five years in prison as an opponent of the monarchy; Fred Murphy, NY, ecosocialism group leader at the Marxist Education Project and DSA climate-justice activist; Anya Rebrii, Ukraine/NY, activist and anthropology student; David Schwartzman, biogeochemist, DC Green Party activist, author of “Solar Communism” and Life, Temperature, and the Earth; and Brian Tokar, Vermont, Institute of Social Ecology, activist, author of Toward Climate Justice.
At our international online seminars, we Future Historians imagine that we are living in a peaceful, egalitarian, sustainable world a century from now, in 2118. Our job is to put together a centennial history book for teenagers called THEN AND NOW. We collectively research and discuss century-old Source Materials about capitalism’s catastrophes that were unfolding and impending in 2018, and the forms of resistance to them. Next, we weave these together to present an objective picture of the unsustainable THEN (2018). Finally, we extrapolate from the evidence to reconstruct the different paths that led from THEN to NOW (2118), under the heading HOW? The results may be conceived in the form of a grid, as detailed here.
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 few academics and various longtime socialists and 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 2118, we are able see the different roads as complementary ones 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. Our only rule: no gods, no extra-terrestials.
Our goal: create a history textbook for the teenagers of 2018, a utopian work in the tradition of Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888) and Morris's News from Nowhere, books whose popularity helped bring to life a new socialist movement at the end of the 19th century. We aspire to 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?
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 including this Wiki, a Dropbox account, a Facebook group, and a Google Groups listerv.
If you would like to contribute to this Wiki, we invite to become an active member of the seminar by sending an email to us at AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com. If you prefer not to join but have suggestions, send them to the same address and they will be welcomed, discussed, and perhaps incorporated.
Those with a special interest in one or more Topics are also welcome to join us as guests for an individual session. Again, 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. From time to time, ad-hoc Teams form around an upcoming TOPIC (e.g. “Internationalism”). For access to the Future Historians Dropbox, send a request to AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com.
THE GOOGLE GROUP: We also conduct discussions by email using 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.