Just a few very general theses, an extended improvisation perhaps around the core IOPS values of solidarity/mutual aid and self-management/participatory democracy.
A BIT OF POLITICS: 13 Theses on the Good Society
One’s regret is that society should be constructed on such a basis that man has been forced into a groove in which he cannot freely develop what is wonderful, and fascinating, and delightful in him – in which, in fact, he misses the true pleasure and joy of living.
Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891)
1. The Good Society. To save the planet, civilisation and the human spirit from extreme suffering and almost-extinction, ‘all’ that is needed is the institutionalisation of the ‘good society’.
2. Presence. For the emergence of the good society, ‘all’ that is needed is the liberation of the ‘good society’ that is already present, as seed, bud or flower, wherever and whenever people spontaneously practice solidarity, mutual aid, cooperation, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience, collective ‘autonomy’.
3. Autonomy means self-government, i.e. the negotiating of rules, order, laws (‘nomos’) by the people themselves in direct democracy (e.g. assemblies). The opposite is ‘heteronomy’: the rule of some over others (‘hetero’). What most usually understand (and distrust and dislike) as ‘politics’ are various versions of heteronomy, even when labelled ‘democratic’ or ‘progressive’: a tedious jockeying amongst a separate political class for positions of status, privilege and power over others.
4. Human Nature. Autonomy, solidarity and disobedience are always present aspects of human nature and potential , in all cultures and at all times. There is a long and inspiring transcultural legacy of autonomous social movements, thinkers and artists throughout history.
5. Heteronomy. Like its various expressions ‒ possessive individualism, egoism, xenophobia, power-hunger, obedience, authoritarianism, voluntary slavery ‒ heteronomy is also always present as an aspect of human nature and potential.
6. Alienation. Patriarchy, the State and capitalism are, by definition, repressive institutions based on heteronomy, the reinforcing of the alienation of human nature and potential for autonomy, solidarity, mutual aid, cooperation. This alienation from our human nature is a version of our alienation from nature, an alienation of our deep selves.
7. The State has always been based on, and cultivated, heteronomy and tribal/national xenophobia for the purposes of maintaining its ruling power elites. ‘War is the health of the state.’ (Randolph Bourne). The modern state represses our autonomy: it wants us to live as isolated taxpayers, mere voters, party members and passive consumers of political spectacles and, when necessary, obedient cannon fodder.
8. The alternative to the State is participatory democracy, an institutionalisation of collective autonomy. This is the grassroots political form of the good society in which the people directly make the rules and call the shots. Any delegation is temporary, specific, recallable, rotational.
9. Capitalism has always been based on, and cultivated, heteronomy and competitive and possessive individualism for the purposes of maintaining the wealth and power of its class elites. Advanced capitalism represses our autonomy: it wants us to live as distracted, isolated consumers and over-worked, competitive workers without solidarity and community or any say whatsoever in investment, production, allocation, workplaces, technology.
10. The alternative to capitalism is worker and consumer self-management in production, allocation and consumption, an institutionalisation of collective autonomy. This is the grassroots economic form of the good society, direct democracy in the workplace and neighbourhood, and where wider coordination may take the form of self-federation from below.
11. The Abyss. The dynamics of this double institutional alienation, the State and hyper-industrial capitalism, are now leading humanity, civilisation and the planet to the abyss of almost-extinction and extreme suffering.