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The Time is Right, The Time is Now, The Time is Right Now!

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Whether we consider ourselves Marxist or not, I am sure we all agree that Marx's outlining of the need for change in the ownership of the means of production matrix is justified, given the unnecessary imbalances and injustices it creates in its current form, namely capitalism. Without being the greatest Marxian scholar, on the surface of things, Marx seems to have been Futurist in his beliefs. He realised, as Gaudí did with La Sagrada Familia, that his dream would not become a reality in his lifetime.  He realised the 'united action' needed from the world's leading economies would not, and could not, ratify in such short years. And he realised the important role the development of technology would play in his 'emancipation of the proletariat.' We all know Marx for his revolutionary sentiment but he also  foresaw the way the world has developed in the hundred years or so since his death.  He saw the further rise of the bourgeois capitalist empires almost as a necessity for the final eradication of imperialism. A feat achieved some thirty years following his death with the fall of the last great imperial power, the Ottoman Empire. From the twilight of imperialism he could see the seeds of globalisation sprouting and the mechanisation of such a globalised world. It was at this epoch where Marx envisioned his dream could become a reality. Furthermore, as an economist Marx understood the necessity of boom and bust, of prosperous expansion versus tumultuous crises, to the capitalist paradigm. And as a revolutionary he knew it was in such moments of crises that his beloved proletariat had the greatest opportunity to unite, solidify and rise-up to conquer the bourgeois and their capitalist world order.

 If we take this as a considered Marxian view, my question is this: Is now not that Epoch? Are we now not in a time of great crisis whereby communication and dissemination of information amongst the majority classes can be at its most effective? Have we not seen the rise of capitalism, seemingly to its apex, only for its greatest exponent, the US state, to become the subject of global vindication? Interestingly here it would be worth considering whether we have recently seen any sections of the bourgeois class 'cut itself adrift and join the revolutionary class?' And, are we not potentially at, or at very least very close to, the point whereby technology allows for the needs (and to an extent the wants) of the many to be met by the potentially fewer willing and able? I believe there is every chance we are standing on the precipice of the most monumental wholesale sociological change that history has ever seen!

What evidence do I have for this? Well it is fairly easy to cite a number of global, in some cases at least, movements that have risen over recent years with varying voracity, such as, the 15M movement, the Arab Spring, Anonymous (and their influence in the former), the Anti-War movement, etc. Indeed our own organisation, iOPS, having recently formed can be viewed from one angle as a reaction to the rise of such movements considering one of our aims is to reach out, connect and unite with them. Only of course our vision goes further in providing a well-considered, self-evolving  alternative, in Parecon, that could offer the solution for replacing the current system that has built the foundations that gave rise to such movements. Hopefully it goes some way to answering the eternal question posed by Einstein: 'How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?' Perhaps Brazil can offer some insight into this as they are the leading the way in 'experimenting' with participatory budgeting. Brian Wampler offers some insight: "A comprehensive case study of eight municipalities in Brazil analyzing the successes and failures of participatory budgeting has suggested that it often results in more equitable public spending, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning."

Whilst the successes in Brazil represent good examples of the participatory method being deployed and developed they don't represent that necessary something more critical to the underlying ideal, namely change in ownership structures. However, here too we have seemingly a rise in recent examples of such activity. The Fellowship for Intentional Community Directory had 300 communities listed in 1992, rising to 500 by 1995, and at time of writing this figure stands at 2327. Now this could be due to a number of factors including simply a rise in the acceptance of being listed in the directory or the rise of the internet. But further to this there is a, perhaps more significant, change in general people's attitudes towards such communities. Less and less are they being widely viewed as 'hippy communes' as in the 70s' and more and more are people discussing them as viable alternatives to more accustomed ways of living. Additionally, in Michael Moore's documentary, 'Capitalism: A Love Story' he provides two examples of companies in America where the owners have stripped themselves of ownership and handed it to the workers. Productivity and quality of life all around improved. Interestingly a recent film advocating the same laudable notion entitled 'We the Owners' provides information and support helping others to see the benefits of and instructions on how to follow this action. It would be an interesting endeavour to find out how many companies worldwide have taken this approach, what benefits are being seen relatively, and how many more companies would consider it? And this would bring us to a natural note of potential progression for iOPS, as surely the members of such communities and companies and participatory budgeted municipalities would be in agreement with a lot of our principals, ideals, and ideas. On a more local level, here in Spain there is a very interesting example in the case of Marinaleda, Andalusia. Whilst unemployment in the country hovers around 30%, Marinaleda has 0%. Why? Because Mayor Sanchez Gordillo has collectivised the lands of the rural village. He says: "It is true we form part of a tradition, but we're doing something new here too: we're insisting that natural resources should be at the service of people, that they have a natural right to the land, and that land is not something to be marketed."

Is it possible that these displays of discontent and radical change have always been around and they are not necessarily increasing or furthering in magnitude, rather due to the explosion of mass (and now to an extent uncensored) media they are simply more visible? This could be the case, but I would say in reference to the Arab Spring, never before have we seen so many inter-connected revolutions, or at least happening simultaneously. According to Yousri Marzouki of the Huffington Post:  "Think about what history will now remember as the Arab Spring ...the influence of cyber-activism via social media platforms ... [and]... the absence of a clearly identified leader, a political party or figure, an association, or an organizing capacity." The later part of this comment is very interesting, surely that is what we are seeking to attain, or at least in its truism because in reality it was an organised movement involving participatory self management, using social media as a platform for such organisation. Perhaps what was and still is lacking is an association to increase said organising capacity. Hopefully iOPS can go some way to offering this, one day! Marx asked: "Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views, and conception, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?" I would argue that it does not and also further pose that the development of the internet as a communication advancement has allowed humanity to become interconnected like never before. In this web of humanity we now constitute the global consciousness of man is more apparent. How we shape this consciousness, at this moment in history, could define the future of our species.

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