From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject It’s Time to Democratize the Crisis: Join A Global Community of Countries Mobilizing to Do Just That
Date May 31, 2020 12:00 AM
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[This strategy of economic and social reconstruction necessarily
involves not only equitable treatments of gender exclusion and
reproduction, but social control or democratic governance for
innovation, manufacturing, and the core “commanding heights” ]
[[link removed]]

IT’S TIME TO DEMOCRATIZE THE CRISIS: JOIN A GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF
COUNTRIES MOBILIZING TO DO JUST THAT  
[[link removed]]


 

Jonathan Michael Feldman
May 25, 2020

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[[link removed]]
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_ This strategy of economic and social reconstruction necessarily
involves not only equitable treatments of gender exclusion and
reproduction, but social control or democratic governance for
innovation, manufacturing, and the core “commanding heights” _

, Jonathan Michael Feldman

 

“THE COMMUNES OF THE NEXT REVOLUTION…WILL TRUST THE FREE
ORGANIZATION OF FOOD SUPPLY AND PRODUCTION TO FREE GROUPS OF
WORKERS—WHICH WILL FEDERATE WITH LIKE GROUPS IN OTHER CITIES AND
VILLAGES NOT THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF A COMMUNAL PARLIAMENT BUT DIRECTLY,
TO ACCOMPLISH THEIR AIM.”

P. A. Kropotkin, _The Commune of Paris_, Freedom Pamphlets, no. 2,
London: W. Reeves, 1895.

_The Challenge of Our Time_

 What would it mean to “democratize the crisis”? This was the
theme of the “Global Teach-In 2020: Democratize the Crisis
[[link removed]]” held May 26th of this year in the
U.S. and twenty countries in total over twenty five locations
[[link removed]]. How can we create
democratic systems to address the massive health, economic, political
and media challenges generated by the coronavirus crisis?   At the
Global Teach-In, David Graeber of the London School of Economics
emphasized the need to expand our political imaginations to consider
possible alternatives.  This expanded imagination is of critical
importance because the crisis has exposed the limits to the normal
workings of the “economy,” a term whose standard usage Graeber
suggested often promotes a limited understanding of actual problems
and needs.

Greater public participation can be an alternative to organized
irresponsibility.  We  need what the social critic Paul Goodman
called, “Utopian Thinking”—alternative designs for the future
which are rooted in present day possibilities.  In education and
politics, the philosopher Hannah Arendt believed a permanent
citizens’ mobilization could overcome the limits of representational
democracy. The Global Teach-In  involves the public in planning and
does not  simply share expertise with the public. The public tests
out what ideas make sense in their local context by deliberating over
them.  This deliberation process builds on a long tradition of town
meeting democracy (as in the United States) and study circles in
Scandinavia as well as the general assemblies of the New Left, Occupy
and Extinction Rebellion movements.  

The coronavirus crisis has exposed the limits to political, economic
and media systems in which power is concentrated in persons whom
Lawrence Beryl Cohen
[[link removed]]
called “formulators.” These persons concentrate authority and
resources involving political decisions, the organization of work and
the distribution of knowledge and representational power.  Their
power helps generate, maintain and aggravate crises.  It has led to
dangerous working conditions, homelessness, hunger, and shortages in
health equipment. Their stupidity led to needless deaths,
deforestation, and failures to act early and systematically with the
necessary health and safety procedures. We can deconstruct or
criticize what they have done.  We can try to petition politicians to
do the right thing and expose them. But ultimately it is only by
addressing their _power to make bad and stupid decisions_ where we can
find comprehensive solutions. 

The power wielders, as Seymour Melman called them, have concentrated
power at the public’s expense. They often promote short-term
interests and use public relations and advertising techniques to
confuse people and divorce themselves from responsibility.  We have
what C. Wright Mills called a system of “organized
irresponsibility.”  This means that those who are responsible for
problems fail to take responsibility for them.  They organize or
manufacture a system where no one who actually has the power appears
to be responsible.  Strangely, the coronavirus has forced politicians
and companies to temporarily stop mindless growth, but it has not
stopped their future power to destroy the planet.  We have a horrible
plague which has simultaneously gained a power that social movements
have lacked to stop mindless growth, but this has occurred without key
decision makers being sufficiently responsible. 

The crisis has exposed the limits of established health security
regimes particularly in nations lacking public healthcare or a social
welfare system facilitating the ability of sick people to stay at
home.  The fact that most people don’t own their jobs and many
forms of employment
[[link removed]]
depend on face-to-face interaction or direct engagement with products
or services creates a divide in the workforce.  Some politicians have
used the crisis to concentrate power and various media have promoted a
misunderstanding of either health risks or proactive solutions. Yet,
where does the political mobilization opportunity associated with this
crisis come from?  The answer to this question can be found in
another asked by Global Teach-In participant, British scholar and
activist Hilary Wainwright
[[link removed]]. She asks
whether a new politics of the left can “be achieved from within
existing political institutions, or does it require new sources of
power to be built in society and the economy as a base for new
political institutions?”

 

_The Politics from Below as Rich in Morality, Low on Cash_

The classification of politics from above and below was developed by
Zelig Harris in _The Transformation of Capitalist Society_
[[link removed]]
and by various other thinkers. This idea involves thinking about who
directs planning processes and whether initiative is left to
intermediaries rooted in the established state and transnational
corporations (from above) or popular initiatives, social control and
alternative institutions (from below).  At the Global Teach-In Karen
Baker-Fletcher, Professor of Systematic Theology, Southern Methodist
University, gave an example of a mobilization from below. She
explained how Paul Quinn College transformed its football field into
an organic farm. This historically black college in Dallas now
“generates more than 20,000 pounds of organic vegetables every
year” according to a PBS profile
[[link removed]].
This example provides a model for how resiliency can be promoted in
the face of the corona pandemic.

This kind of activity is being replicated throughout the globe.  Jia
Tolentino, in a May 11th article in _The New Yorker_, profiled many
diverse mutual aid efforts propping up in the United States:

In Aurora, Colorado, a group of librarians 
[[link removed]]started assembling kits of
essentials for the elderly and for children who wouldn’t be getting
their usual meals at school. Disabled people in the Bay Area organized
assistance for one another
[[link removed]];
a large collective in Seattle 
[[link removed]]set out explicitly to help
“Undocumented, LGBTQI, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Elderly,
and Disabled, folxs who are bearing the brunt of this social
crisis.” Undergrads helped other undergrads who had been barred from
dorms and cut off from meal plans. Prison abolitionists raised money
so that incarcerated people
[[link removed]] could purchase
commissary soap. And, in New York City, dozens of groups 
[[link removed]]across
all five boroughs signed up volunteers to provide child care and pet
care, deliver medicine and groceries, and raise money for food and
rent.

These efforts focus on reallocating resources without the necessary
intervention by a state or government.

The New York City efforts illustrate that one solution for
democratizing the crisis is to use social media _from below_ and
provide a direct voluntary aid response. For example, Bushwick Mutual
Aid (BMA) is a decentralized group of Brooklyn residents organizing to
provide aid to their “community in the wake of the COVID
pandemic.” Since they began, the group claims that they have
crowdfunded about “$30,000 to purchase [and] deliver groceries and
essential supplies to 471 families, feeding over 3,000 people, most of
whom are Spanish-speaking and low-income, all with the backing of 550
registered volunteers across Bushwick.” This group began on March
13th of this year as a Facebook group
[[link removed]] for neighbors to
share tips, such as where to go to find toiletries and for people
to offer free assistance running errands
[[link removed]] and
delivering food. Another group, Brooklyn Mutual Aid, began by putting
up flyers announcing they would “run errands, mail letters, or pick
up groceries and prescriptions for people with a high risk of serious
complications from coronavirus.”

These groups have been able to deliver direct help in response to the
crisis, but are often removed from the greater economic, media and
political resources of incumbent and established corporations,
governments and NGOs.  If and when these incumbents fail, we must
advance mutual aid groups to the next level.

_The Politics from Above as Rich in Cash, Low on Morality_

Other solutions involve mobilization from above, where those with
greater resources are deployed to raise larger sums of money, albeit
at a social cost.  Here we need to explore the limits of
corporate-sponsored social change initiatives.  For example, MIT’s
Solve initiative
[[link removed]]
explains that: “Members of the Solve community champion Solve’s
mission to address world challenges and directly support the Solver
teams who are implementing solutions to those global challenges.” To
join this initiative requires that one invests $5,500 annually. They
add, “100 percent of Member donations go towards Solver grants and
support to help Solver teams implement and scale their work.” 
The problem here, aside from the obvious financial setback, is that
Solve is sponsored not only by Save the Children and the Nature
Conservancy, but also by Nike and Johnson & Johnson.

A report [[link removed]] in September of
last year on NIKE noted that the company “has not committed to
eliminating hazardous chemicals from its supply chain. These chemicals
are a big problem for workers who are exposed to them and even those
who wear the products.” Furthermore, “Nike’s use of hazardous
chemicals has also been criticised by Greenpeace, who have voiced
concerns regarding the pollution of waterways.”  NIKE has been
faulted in the recent past
[[link removed]]
for paying “poverty wages to the thousands of women in their supply
chain that sew the football shirts and shoes of players and
supporters,” despite paying millions to others (like the French
national football team) to advance its brand.

Johnson & Johnson
[[link removed]] not only
sponsors Solve but also another endeavor called Global Citizen
[[link removed]], the sponsors
of an annual music festival. This year, Global Citizen sponsored, with
the help of Lady Gaga and other celebrities, “One World, Together At
Home
[[link removed]].”
This event was supposed to “show unity among all people who are
affected by COVID-19, as well as celebrating and supporting the brave
frontline health care workers around the world who are doing
incredible, life-saving work.” The company for its part declares:
“we believe good health changes everything – it’s the foundation
of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress.” 
Noting that they are “the world’s largest healthcare company,”
they claim that they have used their “reach and size to combat
disease, advance maternal and child health, expand access, and help
build the health workforce of tomorrow.”  

Johnson & Johnson is a morally compromised brand, however. As a
_Common Dreams_ report
[[link removed]]
in August of last year noted, the company was ordered that month “to
pay $572 million in fines for its role in perpetuating the [opioid]
crisis.”  This was “the first decided case against a corporation
accused of contributing to the opioid epidemic in the U.S.”  The
report explained that Johnson & Johnson used contracts with poppy
growers in Tasmania to supply “60 percent of the ingredients that
drug companies used in opioid painkillers like OxyContin, contributing
to the deaths of about 400,000 Americans in the last two
decades—including 388 Oklahoma residents just in 2017.”
Essentially, Global Citizen is engaging in _a moral money laundering
operation_. Drug addicts pay an informal tax to the company which uses
the funds to buy good will from outfits like MIT and Global Citizen. 
 Needy people are helped based on a profit mechanism which
contributes to addiction and death, even while the charity brand is
advanced with the help of celebrities purporting to save lives.

 

_The Politics From Below as Bad Design   _

 One might end the story here: another deconstruction of corporate
malfeasance in which those branded as heroic actors actually turn out
to be villains. The problem, however, is that the plot is far more
complicated.  Even progressive and “left” forces may find it hard
to democratize the crisis. One reason why is what Michael Learner has
referred to as “surplus powerlessness
[[link removed]],”
i.e. the fact that left movements unnecessarily can render themselves
less powerful by their very design
[[link removed]]. 

 Crises sometimes can therefore expose the limits of even grassroots
social change organizations. In practice _surplus powerlessness_ can
be seen in how left groups sometimes engage in specific forms of
branding and targeting which artificially reduce their capacity to
connect issues and promote topical agendas that do not correspond to
their original charters.  Crises create immediate opportunities if
one links the short-term specificity of a crisis to a longer-term
institutional change.  Yet, many social change organizations have
relatively fixed agendas attached to narrow framing systems that end
up _petitioning_
[[link removed]]
the government or corporations rather than building systems to oppose
these actors or even lobby them more systematically. NGOs can become
harvesting operations for passive “public audiences” so that
politics is nothing more than brand validation.

 One activist recently wrote me about a specific progressive
organization’s inability to participate in coalitions “if they are
not controlling the event or have the power,” then “they have no
interest” in that event.   To sell their brand, organizations many
differentiate their product as a “unique commodity” and therefore
meet the specifications of short-term oriented foundations, the media,
politicians and others.  In this way, they attract consumers of the
brand and build up their power base.  This salesmanship is
appropriate to the filtering systems that control and channel
financial, media and political capital for the left and larger NGO
sphere. Foundations can limit agendas just like journalistic frames
and traditional politicians. NGOs and even protest movements passing
through these filters constrain frames and agendas. There are at least
two books about this theme, including _Protest Inc.: The
Corporativization of Activism_
[[link removed]]
and _The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit
Industrial Complex_
[[link removed]]. 

 

_Can Progressive Presidential Campaigns and Green New Deals Move
Beyond Political Scarcity? _

 It is not just that activists are puppets of the financiers’
supply system, however.  _There is also_ _a demand by some activists
themselves for the kind of patronage which does not support or endorse
visionary change_.  Essentially, we have two sides to the problem. On
the one hand, economic, media and political filtering mechanisms
perpetuate disconnected agendas which are highly specialized.  On the
other hand, such mechanisms generate activists with emotional,
psychological and career investments in highly specialized brands tied
to limited organizing routines.  In this way the political ecosystem
is polluted by a stratum of individuals who cannot readily seize
opportunities when crises arise because organizing around the crisis
contradicts their preformed and packaged agenda. Or, a crisis is
simply harvested to sell the same narrow agenda as mainstream
politicians and even NGOs were selling before even if it is sold under
a new name.  The failure to innovate ends up reproducing the politics
of scarcity, with atomized social movements and a failure to
accumulate economic, media and political capital outside the sway of
power brokers. Even social movements can generate a leadership class
[[link removed]]
which administers de-activated citizens.

Many organizers will tell you that we must bring in established
politicians and leaders to promote the changes we want to see.  The
problem is doing that without also building alternative power
accumulation mechanisms.  This limitation becomes clear when we look
at the recent Sanders campaign. Left politicians running for office
have become the default mechanism to overcome the logic of progressive
groups caught up in their atomized silos. To his credit, Bernie
Sanders has responded to the coronavirus crisis by using his network
to support charity activities aiding those directly hit by the
crisis.  He and others have tried to link a progressive national
healthcare system to the limitations of the incumbent regime in which
hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and insurance firms profit while
patients and front-line health workers suffer.  While such moves are
certainly commendable, they will prove insufficient for addressing the
larger problems which Sanders himself addressed when he tweeted
[[link removed]]
on June 30, 2019: “We are taking on: -Insurance companies -Drug
companies -The fossil fuel industry -The private prison industry -The
military-industrial complex -Wall Street -The NRA -The billionaire
class -Donald Trump.” So Sanders wisely linked issues and even
created a funding mechanism beyond the grasp of elite sponsors.  Yet,
was even that _enough_?

The defeat of Sanders suggests that a candidate cannot possibly take
on all of these interests without the existence of some other
supporting mechanism.  The defeat of Sanders and Jeremy Corbin in the
United Kingdom suggests that a candidate cannot possibly take on all
of these interests without the existence of some other supporting
mechanism. These candidates were supported in theory by supporting
networks like "Our Revolution" and "Momentum." Yet, the supporting
mechanism cannot simply be a collection of social movements, trade
unions, unaffiliated activists and Internet-based sponsors. Some argue
that Sanders made mistakes
[[link removed]]
which are debated as being more or less relevant
[[link removed]]
because of the concerted opposition of elites_.  Even if Sanders had
won the nomination, which turns out to be a big “if,” he would
have still faced massive opposition from various industrial complexes
and “billionaire class” (or their proxies) after the election_.
Sanders argued that he would rally the people _politically_ to oppose
such forces, but one might ask whether even that strategy would have
proven sufficient. Corporations are known to engage in capital strikes
against their opponents
[[link removed]] and thereby
bend _even states_ to their will.    

Bernie Sanders combines a politics from above (being in the U.S.
Senate, regularly featured in top-down mass media) with a grassroots
activist machine from below (generating millions of dollars in funds
and involving millions in more bottom-up social media networks). Yet,
this mechanism cannot sufficiently compete with complexes of power
based on economic accumulation. The basic problem here is not
Sanders’s tactical mistakes vis-à-vis Joe Biden or whether or not
the “billionaire class” opposed him.  The really fundamental
problem is how to amass the scale of power necessary to oppose those
who dominate decision-making within the United States and the global
economy.   In contrast to political campaigns, the typical
corporation integrates diverse kinds of capacities, like economic,
media and political power.  It does not merely petition power, it
generates power by producing commodities or services and exchanging
economic capital for other forms.  It operates on the scale of tens
of billions or dollars and utilized media and economic platforms worth
billions more.

Another solution to silos and economic mobilization is advocacy of a
Green New Deal.  Such plans have begun to rally diverse
constituencies concerned with global warming, social exclusion and
jobs. Even networks like CNBC had a town hall
[[link removed]]
with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about “The Green New Deal.” AOC’s
green new deal plan also supports manufacturing, yet there are no
significant manufacturers involved in or aligned with this plan. 
Therefore, one needs to discuss ways to engage or push manufacturers
to embrace or support the plan.  _One can’t argue that the plans
and money would sufficiently entice companies to back a Green New Deal
when many if not most companies don’t want the money and don’t
lobby for the plan_. In essence, the Green New Deal, like Sanders’s
own campaign, comes up against the same obstacle of corporate power. 
President Roosevelt’s own New Deal plan was partially a reaction to
a mass movement related to a financial crisis.  Yet, the current
movements supporting the Green New Deal are hardly on the scale of the
movements which triggered the original New Deal. Moreover, Global
Teach-In participant Jon Rynn has argued that many Green New Deal
plans are badly designed
[[link removed]],
i.e. they themselves are merely another branding exercise. 

One barrier to the Green New Deal is lack of support from parts of the
labor movement. In June 2019, Umair Irfan explained in _Vox_
[[link removed]]_
_that various energy unions including the United Mine Workers  were
“skeptical” as to whether the Green New Deal built “a bridge
sturdy enough to carry workers over to a future with cleaner
energy.” While the resolution contains “language about a jobs
guarantee,” there was “no mechanism in the resolution to fund
those jobs nor any specifics about how much they will pay, where they
will be, and what benefits will be provided.”   Maine did pass a
Green New Deal plan,  but that state has relatively few workers tied
to dirty energy interests.  A report by Rachel M. Cohen in _The
Intercept_
[[link removed]]
noted how labor opposition is rooted in the belief that workers in
dirty industries feel that Green New Deal plans are weak in providing
job guarantees or competitive wages.  _Promises of jobs don’t carry
the same sway as actual, incumbent jobs for some workers and unions_.
The need to convert industries so that jobs are saved is an old,
neglected history
[[link removed]].
Likewise, the historical precedent of the Tennessee Valley Authority
and other New Deal type institutions is valuable.  Yet, while social
amnesia about best practices is one problem we cannot wish expanded
production platforms into existence by referring to the grand
historical past. 

 The Green New Deal therefore risks becoming an abstract set of ideas
and budgetary proposals and distribution system which lacks both an
internal system of wealth generation (by being decoupled from
actual—meaning really existing and committed—production platforms)
or a significant motor for change (by relying simply on social
movements using petitioning power). The bailout packages are already
sponsoring corporations, but with few if any environmental
restrictions. Yet, this merely shows that money transfers don’t in
themselves end up by changing corporate designs.

 

_A Politics from Above and Below_

 Any meaningful social movement system must figure out how to advance
networks of solidarity and mutual aid like Bushwick Mutual Aid has
done _from below_, with the economic power marshalled by groups like
Global Citizen _from above_. The former model is limited by economic
scarcity, the latter by moral scarcity.  Many years ago the activist
and political philosopher John Gerassi explained one risks being so
“radical” as to be totally outside the orbit of power
(marginalized and ignored) or so engrossed in gaining power as to be
totally co-opted. Gerassi explained the modalities of deconstructive
armchair leftists and so-called pragmatic incremental elite appendages
or Alinsky organizer types. We also have grand policy proposals light
on organizing and activist organizers light on theory.  So how do we
move beyond the limits of each? 

The mutual aid model shows how service provision is a mobilizer. Yet,
we must also link mutual aid to innovation, production and economic
accumulation.  We now see diverse innovation platforms producing
health commodities linking innovation to mutual aid.  Given the
global scale of the crisis, transnational social production networks
[[link removed]]
have emerged in which innovators pool resources across the globe to
design and produce equipment like ventilators.  Trade union
engagement
[[link removed]]
in production can often be the link between grassroots mobilization
from below and the accumulation of economic power directed from
above.  One key strategy is to mobilize diverse groups seeking a
Green New Deal and have such groups encourage the conversion of
existing, incumbent producers
[[link removed]].
Another strategy involves the creation of new cooperative platforms or
the use of cooperatives as mutual aid actors
[[link removed]]. At
the Global Teach-In, Sizwe Mkwanazi, who works with the Africa
Cooperatives Institute of South Africa [[link removed]],
discussed the role which cooperatives can play in promoting
resiliency.

One way to extend mutual aid, solidarity, and cooperative forms as
innovators, producers and engines of accumulating power (for
alternative energy, mass transit, and other public goods), is to
mobilize consumptive power. In a profile published in Reuters
[[link removed]],
Bruno Latour, the French sociologist, argues that proactive
environmental political change can occur when we “stop buying the
things we don’t want” and “the power of the consumer is
intense.”  He also worries that “the scale of the crisis, which
has put millions of people out of work around the world, will in fact
send environmental concerns onto the back-burner.”  The Green New
Deal must be _materialized_ by linking consumptive networks to actual
networks of innovators and cooperatives.   

Howard Lisnoff recently argued
[[link removed]] that “the
left exists now in splintered ways and primarily in its many
expressions on the Internet.”  If the progressive communities and
millions of affected communities could properly mobilize the
Internet’s and mass media power, however, then they might promote
alternative networks of innovation and cooperation simply by consuming
differently. That is the logic of “move your money campaigns
[[link removed]].”
In the last six months, Amazon’s stock has risen by about 11%
[[link removed]]. 
This indicates that Internet-based consumptive power is still a
salient force despite lockdowns, sickouts, strikes and a global
depression.  While Amazon’s pernicious labor practices are well
known, less well known is the example of the Strike Bike
[[link removed]],
which occurred in 2007 when striking workers took production into
their own hands.  In this example, 135 striking workers in Nordhausen
protesting the closure of a German bike company started to produce a
limited number of “strike bikes” to prove their company’s
viability.  Independently of the ultimate viability of this
initiative, today we see a growing market for such projects given the
near term health limits to congregating in mass transit, the
ecological crisis, and mass unemployment.

Mass media must involve more than proposing abstract ideas to
incentive local groups to identify with brands and then petition
states and corporations.  In contrast, we must utilize ideas that
empower groups to socialize consumption and production. Listeners must
become active deliberators (to mediate and validate ideas) as well as
consumers of socially produced, sustainable products and services. 
If we can take a mass media audience and convert them into cooperative
consumers who support cooperative producers, then we will overcome the
political scarcity dilemma. Even a circular economy that reduces waste
requires active mobilization of audiences as consumers who validate
the least wasteful products and services.  At the Global Teach-In,
Alhassan Pereira Ibrahim of the Centre for Democracy & Development
[[link removed]],
Nigeria, addressed how various local communities involving activists
and professionals, are promoting more accurate and authentic
representations of the truth regarding health issues during the
crisis. These networks of media accountability are necessary to
transcend the limits of established elite mass media framing.

Bertolt Brecht, the German playwright, has provided us with an outline
of how we ca democratize the crisis in the media sphere.  He 
discussed the need for a new kind of radio: “Radio could be the most
wonderful public communication system imaginable, a gigantic system of
channels — could be, that is, if it were capable not only of
transmitting but of receiving, of making the listener not only hear
but also speak, not of isolating him but of connecting him. This means
that radio would have to give up being a purveyor and organise the
listener as purveyor. That is why it is extremely positive when radio
attempts to give public affairs a truly public nature.” Phase one of
the Global Teach-In focused on expert opinion. In phases two and three
of the Global Teach-In, we made the listener the purveyor or the
formulator as listeners made plans for the future.

We have a model for systemic power accumulation in the actions of
individuals, transnational social production networks
[[link removed]]
and cooperative networks.  Malcolm X organized hundreds of mosques
which became political franchises and supported import substitution
for local communities so that they could recapture the wealth taken
out of them. He supported development in Africa through a “bank of
technicians,” highlighting the need for people to gain control over
the means of innovation.  His charismatic persona gained him access
to mass media, built up these local franchises that also aimed to
develop local businesses.  Today, cooperative variants of these ideas
or attempts to socially control business exist in places like:
Cleveland, Ohio
[[link removed]];
Jackson, Mississippi [[link removed]]; Oshawa, Canada
[[link removed]]; and Preston in the United Kingdom
[[link removed]]. 
The Mondragon Corporation
[[link removed]] links a network
of factories, industrial laboratories and a cooperative bank.

A key strategy must be to link political organizing, mass media
broadcasts and alternative economic forms.  We must link media power
to encourage citizens to move their money out of dirty, military
businesses and into clean and peaceful ones. Cooperatives must not
become utopian islands in a larger sea of dystopia. There is a need
for entrepreneurial platforms to “break out
[[link removed]]”
or expand their resource base through the extension and exchange of
power
[[link removed]].
This means that power in one sphere is transformed (or exchanged) with
power in another, as Malcolm X’s example illustrates.  Similarly,
cooperatives must be part of other networks in the political and
economic spheres. Media networks must engage and support a
democratized technology.  We need mechanisms to systematically
accumulate power rather than simply deconstruct maladies and petition
the state.  This strategy of economic and social reconstruction
necessarily involves not only equitable treatments of gender exclusion
and reproduction, but social control or democratic governance for
innovation, manufacturing, and the core “commanding heights” of
the economy.

On May 26, 2020, the Global Teach-In
[[link removed]] discussed this alternative
institution building agenda in both a broadcast and participatory
event, which was distributed by the Pacifica Radio network in the U.S.
with Canadian affiliates.  The event was broadcast live on Facebook.
The coronavirus crisis has exposed the limits of incumbent networks
and institutions. The time for building alternative institutions
linking mutual aid to systemic power accumulation is now.

 

_Jonathan Michael Feldman teaches at Stockholm University and is the
founder of The Global Teach-In.  He can be reached via Twitter
@Globalteachin.  The proceedings of Global Teach-In can be seen at:
[link removed]
[[link removed]]. _

 

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