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Michael Albert's Left List

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Those who visit ZNet will notice an overlay introducing yet another Albert Emancipatory Project whose format is eerily familiar. First there is the Manifesto explaining broad goals. Then there is The List of Signatorees, distinguished (ie. people who have published) names of The Left. This latest exercise is called We Stand and the program and names on the list will be familiar to anyone here on the IOPS site, or anyone who joined Zschool, or any of the other projects ( a blur to me but I know there were more) Albert has initiated to bring leftists in under a "big tent" for discussions, conventions, and the building of a mass social movemnt, one presumes. Unfortunately, cyber space is littered with these abandoned tents, old websites that sparked briefly with some flurry of activity but soon dwindled to embers then ashes. Perhaps IOPS can be the exception...whatever.. I'm just being frank.

Amazingly, this history in no way dampens Albert's enthusiasm to write another manifesto and list the same Names and ask readers to "join the list"; there is no indication there has been any re-evaluation of strategy nor tactics, nor any critical reflection of any sort. How will this be different? What new formulation or analysis or Spirit prevents the same outcome? Am I really supposed to believe there will be some forum where I can debate Chomsky and Grubacik and Bello? C'mon!  You can fool me four or five times... but someday I'll wiseup!

Discussion 30 Comments

  • Bat Chainpuller 15th Dec 2016

    Just wrote a comment under Michael's essay re this thang! I invited people over here to IOPS because I reckon this place is essentially the same and provides better opportunity to chinwag, discuss, interview, blog, educate, and debate Cuba and Castro. Maybe others here who are sustainers could do the same. Point people to here. They can still sign the other thing, but shit, this place is better, works better, is easier and as I said, essentially the same, but more.

    And no Dave, you should NOT believe you will have the chance to debate or chat with and maybe learn some shit in solidarity with those you mention, of the more well known variety of "activist". Because they will NOT participate in any way other than sign and lend their name. They are already far too busy doing their other shit. And fair enough too (that's just in case Michael Albert does pop in to give me a whack for saying that), they are very very busy. Far far more busier (I know) than us regular folk who might wear a tennis shoe or the occasional python boot! And doing real stuff. Not like me. Not just hanging around chatting about crap, or discussing stuff, or at least trying to or pretending to.

    Someone I know, a good friend, muso, activist, and once member of the Melbourne chap of IOPS, a founding member in fact, sent me this when I sent him through the petition to sign,

    “The Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous which was copyrighted in 1981. It is found on page 11 of the final "Review Form" which was distributed to the fellowship in November of 1981. The quote in that text is "Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results".”

    If you are a sustainer of Z or can comment, then flood the comments section under Michael's essay (all four of you) and invite people, nicely, not like me, to come over here. Maybe they could sign Michael's thing and then come over here. Where's the harm?

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 15th Dec 2016

    Just a note.

    Again, as far as I can see at least, while 'ecological wisdom' and biodiversity are mentioned, the world's greatest threat to survival bar weapons of mass destruction, namely climate chaos, does not rate a mere mention in Albert's latest come-together manifesto 4.0.

    'Ecological wisdom' my arse/ass. Is this a US thing or just Albert's personal version of progressive denialism? Dave? Interesting, anyway.

    • Lambert Meertens 16th Dec 2016

      “Ecological wisdom” is the first item on the list of principles of the Global Greens Charter. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined by Arne Næss in 1973. The deep-ecology movement inspired by Næss was put down by Bookchin as “eco-fascism”, but I guess the latter’s critique is not directly applicable to the Green Parties’ principle.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Dec 2016

      Maybe you misunderstood me Lambert. I'm not querying the use of the term 'ecological wisdom'. I'm all for it. I was just trying to ask whether Albert's form of 'ecological wisdom' apparently includes totally ignoring climate chaos (not to mention unsustainability of mega-industrial capitalism, limits to growth etc etc etc). Hence the my ass/arse.

  • Dave Jones 15th Dec 2016

    What jumped out at me was the claim at the very top that "We the initial signers (the well-knowners)...will consult with ALL signers and COLLECTIVELY discuss..." blah blah. The caveat being they have to reach some unspecified "critical mass" before they will take the time out of their no doubt busy lives to mingle.

    So this admittedly sounds like sour grapes but like Bat says, if they are looking for dialogue to hone a critique, to formulate a plan, why not send them over here? We are still holding out in this lonely outpost, waiting for a boat to arrive, some stars to align, some bush to spontaneously combust.

    IMO, random signatures is the same as Facebook "likes", recall all the IOPS "members" who signed up and were never heard from again. So why on earth replicate the model again?

    I don't know Peter, a vague mention of "ecological wisdom" is all too typical of Left reticence/ incoherence on the issue. Perhaps due to the fact that labor (such as it is in US) can't find a position beyond "Blue-Green" capitalism, beyond faith in the Regulatory State, beyond incrementalist tax incentives and other market approaches - all of which one finds espoused on ZNet.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Dec 2016

      Click Like or Follow the anti-coordinator coordinators, the ana-lennies, libertarian Castrists, the anarcho-carbon marketeers perhaps? Count me out count me out count me out camerados, rather watch stand-up.

  • Lambert Meertens 16th Dec 2016

    The domain names http://www.standforpeaceandjustice.org and zcomm.org resolve to the same IP address

  • Alex of... 16th Dec 2016

    as long as we’re calling ourselves the alt-left and i can say cunt, i’m in. substance cums later.


    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Dec 2016

      My girl hero. Can we make her an IOPS content curator?

    • Alex of... 17th Dec 2016

      dunno if it has something to do with my belief in unicorns, but a youth council sounds like a magical idea. perhaps i'll see one some day...

      youth feedback on site docs?

  • Caragh - 16th Dec 2016

    oh you all make me smile!

    The weirdest twilight zone element of this is I remember making a we stand for peace and justice t-shirt as a youth, so maybe Albert is trying to breathe some life into those that remember that. Who knows. I signed it as usual :) No originality here and I dont know about directing people here- I am sure your comment was sufficient Bat :)Happy weekending all

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Dec 2016

      Same to you Caragh. Warm and humid weekend down here in the antipodes.

  • reader 17th Dec 2016

    I can understand how the repetitiousness might feel frustrating. "Hold on, Sisyphus. Let's get strategic about this rock rolling business. What do you think will happen when you get to the top of the hill?"

    Some questions I have

    a) is this tent empty?
    b) is this a tent?
    c) maybe it's something else, like a virtual convergence based on some shared commitments and willingness to incorporate a set of texts / ideas into one's personal activism bibliography?
    d) could we debate each other? what would participatory debating look like?

    It might help to look on the bright side by imagining how things could be worse. Instead of putting together another emancipatory project Z could be putting together a repressive project, or advertisements for a hedge fund. Whatever the result, this new project's flourishing can only help the flourishing of this space.
    hope the people over at Z and everyone here and everywhere are doing well. season's greetings!

    • Lambert Meertens 18th Dec 2016

      The more tents, the more happy campers? It is not so good if they all aim to unite everyone but are all underpopulated.

      Of course it could be worse, but what is the point in not just repeating the same thing, but also repeating exactly the same mistakes?

      For IOPS it might have made a large difference if some of the better known signatories had shown some actual commitment to participating in the life of the organization they signed on to – nothing time consuming but simply by occasionally posting a copy of something they had written also to the blog here, and mentioning IOPS in speeches or essays. Is there any hope the big names will feel any more commitment to this new attempt? What really did IOPS (almost?) in – at least that is how I see it – was the lack of an accountable and transparent governance structure, not by accident but by design. The new initiative appears to copy that quite faithfully as well.

    • reader 21st Dec 2016

      Underpopulated is still more than unpopulated though. ..I've left and returned and not done much in the form of concrete steps for this org to succeed according to prevailing definitions of success, so my perspective on this issue is pretty limited. It's just that I also think it's important to keep a generosity of "good enough" esteem for anyone doing anything at all to try to improve things. Writers write, organizers organize, fundraisers fundraise, potters pot, and everyone does what they can. It's got to be good enough for a participatory society that values self-determination.

    • Rod 22nd Dec 2016

      Good points, Perr. I often lose myself in criticism of ideas, forgetting that they originated from a person and they may feel disrespected because of it. Even though the criticism may come from a certain respect for that person's ideas.

      It's good to show the other side too. Albert is clearly doing his best in whatever way he knows how to, as we all are. And IOPS probably wouldn't exist without him.

    • reader 22nd Dec 2016

      Hi Rod, thanks for your comment and affirmation of my comment. I was pretty tired when I logged on yesterday to write my comments, and I'm sorry if things came across half-baked.

      Back in 2012 when the ICC members were more active on the boards they did encourage and participate in debates about leadership, organizing, the books, and so on. As far as I could tell they weren't suggesting people hold their constructive criticism. In fact to paraphrase one person's comment that I still remember because it struck me as funny, "I personally think it would be awful if everyone had to go around being super polite to each other."

      No doubt we are all conversant with the basic decorum for engaging ideas rather than personalities.

      Thanks again, hope everyone has a good day.

    • Rod 23rd Dec 2016

      Not much to add to that. I'm wishy washy anyway when it comes to personal relationships. Not always the most polite or 'nice' person. No harm meant, but decorum sometimes comes to stand in the way of honesty or clarity. Communication over internet forums strips some of that decorum away, partly because you have to do it all in text and partly because you don't have to constantly entertain the other person. It becomes more tiresome, less needed and the tools available are more crude. I kind of like that. You can spend more time on trying to generate meaning instead of keeping the social machine greasy and going. But that may very well be a misunderstanding on my end. Perhaps IOPS needs more of that grease to function smoothly.

      As usual, I'm way off topic, so I'll keep it to that. Back to the topic: I signed the thingy, but don't expect much will come of it. Kinda like when I signed up for IOPS.

    • reader 30th Dec 2016

      Maybe a different social grease is needed when society has to run on inclusion and participation rather than exclusion, hierarchy and reserve armies of un(der)employed.
      Also with IOPS having multicultural and multilingual aspirations I don't know that comparisons of politeness level will mean much (at least for the international chapter). I mean if someone told me to f*ck off they are clearly not intending to be nice. But in most cases it's really difficult to tell unless you were to ask them directly, "do you mean I should f*ck off?"

      I'm reading Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor's book On Kindness and it seems the authors are trying to recover kindness as an instinct and as a mode for delivering ones truths in a clear and well-reasoned way.
      'Merica isn't known for decorum, honesty, clarity, or social grease, so their book does break new ground here.
      For what it's worth, to me these exchanges on the website so far seem very mutually respectful and thoughtful.

    • Rod 8th Jan 2017

      I've been thinking about kindness a bit. It seems useful to have a certain understanding and ability related to kindness. As in, (unconciously) knowing when and how to use it so it's used efficiently and effectively, both in terms of inner thought and outer speech/action. If that's what they mean by instinct, then I would agree with the authors (and I could use more development of that instinct myself).

    • Lambert Meertens 23rd Dec 2016

      Potters pot, founders found, signers sign, and members memb.

    • reader 30th Dec 2016


  • Dave Jones 18th Dec 2016

    The tent metaphor has particular resonance for me because as a Montana winter approached, the die-hard members of our local Occupy ended up in a big military style tent ( the more fragile of us moved indoors) Because Occupy had no real "text" and tried to be all-encompassing, in terms of politics, it ended... ambiguously (to be generous).

    IOPS, on the other hand, started with a text and some clearly stated anti-capitalist politics. It claimed to be revolutionary, thereby eliminating at the very least that exhausting debate around reform.

    As I read it, the latest "We Stand" manifesto is a step back in the Occupy direction. It does not use the word capitalism, preferring such broad generalities that one can anticipate with a debilitating dread the re-hashing of endless arguments over saving "democratic capitalism" from itself. In our collective we call this dread Occupy Trauma.

    On my IOPS blog and at the EARTH Project I argued strenuously for a critical look at "intersectionality" and its confluence with identity politics. I argued instead for further strategic refinement and prioritizing, for doing the difficult work of consolidating forces and focusing energy. I believe this strategic dimension is even more crucial now. Albert and his signatorees obviously disagree.

  • reader 21st Dec 2016

    Not sure where you're going with the critique of intersectionality, though I understand that the navigation of intersectionality, identity, and diversity was a point of bitter contention which some Ostrichpie formations could not successfully resolve. One could ask whether there could have been a Brilliant Loving Multitude if there hadn't first been an Ossify, with all of the acrimony around privilege, identity, and intersectionality. Just some thoughts.

    • reader 22nd Dec 2016

      To answer my own question, probably yes, but these movements and projects connect to, build on, are in dialogue with one another (Ossify with Clyde Justins, Clyde Justins with AOL Instant Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger with the San Francisco Straight Smile). To half-ass invoke genealogy and dialectic

      People recovering from failure and illness are encouraged to reframe their difficulties as lessons that may somehow help someone else. So I'm bringing in some of that "let's try to find the silver lining and learning opportunity no matter what" type approach.
      Anyway, thank you for reminding me about all the great projects going on with this site, and letting me know how I can support them.

  • reader 22nd Dec 2016

    (My examples are pretty US-centric and I'll reflect on that.)