Strategies for Change

High-Energy Gathering Fires Up A New Generation of Activists in U.S. Left and Social Movements By Carl Davidson Keep On Keepin' On! When 15,000 vibrant and politically engaged people gather in one spot for five days and organize themselves into more than 1000 workshops, dozens of major plenaries and late night parties across five major cultural hot spots, no one article can claim to give a full account and get away with it. But an event on that scale livened up Detroit, Michigan during the week of June 22-26 at the US Social Forum, when Cobo Hall and several nearby universities were buzzing with thousands of people trying to shape a new world. 15,000 Attend Detroit Social Forum I won’t even try to capture it all. I’ll just affirm the common conviction that it was a major happening on the left and a huge success, an inspiration and an affirmation of hope that progress is being made towards a better future. Then I’ll humbly offer my take on it. We’ll start with some highlights and, for those who aren’t familiar with the Social Forum movement, offer a few explanations.
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Permanent link to this article: http://geo.coop/node/447

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Permanent link to this article:  http://geo.coop/node/436

By Sonia Pichardo, Ph.D.

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The Maker of "Capitalism: a Love Story" has some suggestions for action. They include, among other things, turning your workplace into a cooperative...
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The theme of this issue is worker cooperative replication. It addresses an issue which is central to the growth of the democratic worker cooperative movement. How do we reproduce the success stories we have already achieved? That is, how do we replicate successful worker cooperatives in different locations? Inherent in the challenge of replication is a long standing conundrum of worker cooperative development. Replication is analogous to "franchising" in a capitalist company. Capitalist companies have a compelling motive to replicate successful stores - maximizing profit.

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By Josh Lerner
Originally published by the Movement Vision Lab.

 

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While empathizing with those who feel a sense of "inevitability" in the face of today's powerful capitalist economy (and disagreeing with those who see it as generally acceptable), I hold firmly to the perspective that a more just and democratic economy is both necessary and possible. And I believe that the greatest chance of increasing and assuring viability for the workplace democracy movement may rest in our ability to keep our "eyes on the prize"; that is, on the long term replacement of capitalism?an economy which socializes costs and privatizes benefits?with an economy of democratic cooperation?in which costs and benefits are democratically and equitably shared throughout society.
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If in 2001 the World Social Forum was "the birthplace of global civil society"-namely all social groupings between the public realm of the state and the private realm of the family-what should it be when that society grows up a bit? Many feel that a change is needed. Explaining her absence from the 2006 WSF, Arundhati Roy said "[it] has now become very NGO-ized [non-governmental organizations]...it's just become too comfortable a stage. I think it has played a very important role up to now, but now...I think we have to come up with new strategies."
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According to its publisher's publicity release, America Beyond Capitalism "offers hope for the future." The evidence offered for this hopeful scenario is two-fold: first, that a vast array of diverse micro-level economic alternatives, consistently ignored by the mass media, is developing throughout every region of this beleaguered land; and second, that these neighborhood-, community- and state-based alternatives are heading us towards a "radical restructuring," a new homegrown all-american macro-system-beyond capitalism, beyond socialism, neither liberal, conservative, red, or blue-which Alperowitz calls a Pluralist Commonwealth (PC).
The unMoney Convergence is an interactive (un)conference on the systemic transformation of money and its connection to the social transformation of the planet as a whole. 
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Michael A. Lebowitz. Built It Now: Socialism for the 21st Century. Monthly Review Press, 2000.

A book review by Frank Lindenfeld

What would a humanist, participatory "socialism for the 21st century" look like? In this short book, Michael Lebowitz shares his vision and asserts that the Chavez administration has embarked on transforming Venezuela into such a society through its Bolivarian Revolution.

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By Len Krimerman and Bob Stone, GEO Collective

LEN: As folks head towards the very first US Social Forum in Atlanta questions arise: other than convening a rich mosaic of progressive organizations and activists, does the social forum movement have a mission to bring about "another world," and, if not, should it now adopt a strategy for doing so?

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By Matt Feinstein

For a total of twelve months between 2003 and 2005, I lived and worked with the Unemployed Workers' Movement of Solano (MTD-Solano) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was an experience that fundamentally changed the way I think about community organizing and activism; I continue to search for ways to put those ideas into practice. This article is an attempt to share these experiences, and to let you know about a new video-workshop tool that aims to deepen the exchange between organizers around the world.

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By Betsy Bowman & Bob Stone, GEO Collective

This Occasional Paper by editor/activists at Grassroots Economic Organizing is meant to stimulate dialog on the future of the grassroots economic democracy movement. This is a fully re-written update of an essay available since 1994 to GEO readers. We hope for wide use of this text, with attribution to the authors and GEO. Please email us with ideas/dialogue.

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Pam McMichael, Highlander Research and Education Center

From a talk given at the 4th Biennial Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, July 20, 2007 at the University of North Carolina in Asheville.

Thank you. It's an honor and pleasure to be with you this evening. It's always good when we gather to talk about democracy and democratic participation with people who really mean it.

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A VIDEO REVIEW by Frank Lindenfeld, GEO Collective

This video is about the struggles and successes of the unemployed worker movements in Agentina, intended for use by social change workshops. It is a useful complement to Naomi Klein and Avi Lewisâ??s film, The Take, about the recovered factories movement, where workers take over abandoned factories and re-start production under worker self-management. The dialogue in Work, Dignity & Social Change is in Spanish, with English subtitles.

By Ethan Miller, GEO Collective

Consider this: thousands of diverse, locally-rooted, grassroots economic projects are in the process of creating the basis for a viable democratic alternative to capitalism. It might seem unlikely that a motley array of initiatives such as worker, consumer, and housing cooperatives, community currencies, urban gardens, fair trade organizations, intentional communities, and neighborhood self-help associations could hold a candle to the pervasive and seemingly all-powerful capitalist economy.

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