Given all of this -- and given the fact that I cannot bring myself even now to advocate the equally abhorrent alternative of violent revolution that romantic lefty radicals hitherto have made recourse to in comparable moments of clear-eyed outrage and hair-pulling despair -- I've been thinking about what my actual political priorities are, what campaigns and policies really seem to me to be the fundamental ones, and especially what campaigns look to be capable of providing hope against the interminable turning of the saucer-eyed money-grubbing authoritarian wheel and of inspiring truly promising democratizing educational, agitational, organizational energies; whether these be directed to representatives within the variously constituted parties, or without them, or what have you. It seems to me that numberless fine campaigns already exist that support all of my priorities for the most part, and that almost every one of which has widespread support within the democratic left, usually in what Howard Dean famously called the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party," not to mention being likewise connected conspicuously with figures and organizations associated with what Marcos Moulitsas likes to call, also famously, the "people-powered politics" of the left blogosphere and the Netroots.
Quite to the contrary of the narcissistic technophiliacs who tend to want in moments like this to scribble and sign on to abstract manifestos with split-second shelf-lives or to found membership organizations that offer up the suspect pleasures of sub(cult)ural identification more than any practical organizational energies (they like to think of this sort of foolishness as a sign, of all things, of their "seriousness"), what I would like to hear from readers in e-mails and comments to this post are links to actually existing campaigns sponsored by actually existing mainstream (or at any rate reasonably mainstream-able) democratic-left organizations devoted to these priorities, here and now. That is where I mean to invest the lion's share of my support, my time and my money (such as they are). In my next post I will expand a bit on why I think these campaigns constitute properly technoprogressive politics quite as much as straightforward progressive democratic-left politics.
My Political Priorities Right Now:
1. Supporting campaigns to instate the public financing of elections. (Check out the worthy informational resources and organizational tools available at Public Campaign.)
2. Supporting campaigns to instate a non-means-tested universal Basic Income Guarantee. (Check out the resources available at the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network site, and I'll put in a special plug for Erik Olin Wright's Basic Income as a Socialist Project and Michel Bauwens work linking basic income to emerging p2p formations, for example, quite recently here.)
3. Supporting campaigns to instate universal single-payer healthcare. (Needless to say, these ideas are everywhere at the moment, given Michael Moore's hellraising trailblazing SiCKO, but another good place to check out would be the Physicians for a National Health Program site.)
How Do We Pay for These Priorities?:
1. Supporting campaigns to re-instate the progressive taxation of earned income to 1957 levels (with tax rates returning to those at the height of the so-called Golden Age of American prosperity and capitalism, the mid-point of the Eisenhower Administration).
2. Supporting campaigns to tax investment and interest income at exactly the same progressive earned income rates as above.
3. Supporting campaigns to institute a comparable progressive taxation of property (according to owned square footage of residential, rental, and commercial properties, rather than owned acreage).
Ten More Political Priorities of Mine (Many of Which Undergird or Supplement the Priorities Above):
1. Supporting public-relations campaigns to repudiate the metaphor and discourse of Corporate Personhood (including the repeal of the anti-democratic notion that corporate money is protected speech).
2. Supporting public-relations campaigns to repudiate the premises of orthodox neoliberal public policy discourse, insisting instead on fair trade over so-called "free trade" ideology, insisting instead
(a) on democratic good governance over so-called "limited" or "minimum" governance, insisting instead
(b) on the rule of law for all over crony capitalism, vapid celebrity culture, and a "Unitary Executive" above the law, insisting instead
(c) on real equal opportunities and access for all over the lie of the "rugged individualism" of the privileged, insisting instead
(d) on taxes as the price we all pay for the civilization we all enjoy and a price that those who benefit most from civilization fairly pay a proportionate price for, and finally insist instead
(e) on a democratizing idea of technoscientific progress that requires the public funding, regulation, and distribution of technodevelopmental costs, risks, and benefits responsive to the expressed interests of all the stakeholders to that development over the present-day fantasy of a toypile indifferently and spontaneously accumulating to the benefit of "all" even when it always disproportionately benefits incumbent interests and exacerbates exploitation.
(These efforts define much of my online writing here and some of my teaching as well. I think that this rearticulation of public discourse is among the most promising effects of the left blogosphere, and I think it is already bearing electoral and policy fruits, with every sign of much more to come. Some of my favorite writers these days in this area are Mike Davis, Naomi Klein, and David Harvey. I highly recommend them. As for concrete campaigns and organizations devoted to this work, I welcome comments and suggestions from you all.)
3. Supporting campaigns to eliminate all profit from military spending (literally nothing else we can do can so easily and absolutely contribute to the end of the scourge of war, the consolidation of the necessarily secretive and hierarchical anti-democratic institutions of militarism within our society, the dangerous activation of the monarchical pretensions of the Executive Branch, the proliferation of unaccountable privatization and contracting practices, the siphoning off of vast public moneys into the hands of stanch authoritarians committed to market and religious fundamentalist ideologies, the interminable idiocy of foreign policy blowback, and so on than simply to identify any profits at all made from defense spending with illegal war profiteering -- and this should include proscriptions of any salaries or benefits packages to executives or officers that exceed a mandated reasonable proportion above that of the lowest paid employees of or connected to the firm).
(Is anybody properly trustworthy that you know of working toward anything like this? CorpWatch's list of "Groups Organizing Against War Profiteering" seems very fine for a start but is a bit frustrating for me so far in its overgenerality, given the concrete specificity of the kind of campaign I'm looking for -- but I need to study their wonderful resources in greater depth before I claim that to be more than just an impression.)
4. Supporting campaigns to mandate the immediate radical curtailment of carbon emissions and industrial toxins in the United States and around the world, coupled with an unprecedented public investment in research and development of renewable energy sources and subsidization and incentivization of the use of already existing renewable energy sources, especially renewable sources that decentralize energy provision -- solar, wind, and tidal (this must be coupled with an absolute repudiation of the false rhetoric of corporatists and authoritarians who would commandeer "Green" discourse in the service of incumbency and complacency by advocating a disastrous return to nuclear power or a maintenance of the catastrophic extractive industrial model through the dangerous delusion of "clean coal").
(Obviously this stuff is, at long last, pretty much everywhere these days, not least because of the high profile efforts of Al Gore. Who excites you all most, though, at the concrete level of campaigns to budget real renewable research and development and to subsidize real infrastructural shifts to renewables? I'm especially interested in versions that are hopeful, practical, and yet not bamboozled by libertopian pieties of the right or the left varieties -- these are far fewer and farther between than you might expect them to be. You all know I love the talk at Apollo Alliance, but sometimes I wonder a little about the pace of the walk.)
5. Supporting campaigns to end capital punishment, torture, and human trafficking around the world, and especially to the extent that they occur in or are facilitated by the United States.
(Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International come to mind, of course. In whom do you repose your trust and hope organizationally on these questions?)
6. Supporting campaigns to end the racist War on Drugs in the United States (to me, this means that we must decriminalize all informed, nonduressed, desired consensual recourse to substances, while imposing strong penalties on reckless or irresponsible conduct undertaken under the influence of substances, and imposing strong criminal penalties on fraudulent claims and misinformation connected to the promotion of substances, while subsidizing fact-based education about substance use and abuse in schools and in public mass-media campaigns, and making access to sound drug rehabilitation programs cheap and universal, among other things like ending the privatization of prisons, and reforming intellectual property regimes to ensure that cheap, safe, universal access life saving medicines for neglected diseases and poor people around the world).
(I like the Drug Policy Alliance, and I am consistently intrigued by the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics. Who else do you like? The more practical the better, the less corporatist or puritanical the better.)
7. Supporting campaigns to end the Sex Wars (to me, this means no sodomy laws or laws against no-fault divorce anywhere in the United States, ever, it means decriminalizing informed, nonduressed, desired forms of sex work, it means making access to safe abortion procedures to end unwanted pregnancies and ARTs to facilitate wanted pregnancies safe, cheap, and universal, it means subsidizing fact-based sex education in schools and in public mass-media campaigns, it means ending enforced sexual assignment for intersex infants while supporting informed, nonduressed, desired sexual reassignment for transsexual adults, and it means strengthening and enforcing laws against sexual harassment, as well as against gender discrimination in hiring, firing, promotion, and payment practices in government, in education, and in the workplace, among other things).
(Feminist. Say it loud, say it proud. There are a million places and people doing incredibly work who deserve your support. I love Planned Parenthood, for one example among bazillions.)
8. Supporting campaigns to redirect I(ntellectual)P(roperty) policy to maximize free collaboration and access to knowledge rather than the current policy to maximize incumbency and the ongoing corporate capture of the assets of the public domain.
(My favorite writers in this area for now are James Boyle, Richard Stallman, Lawrence Lessig, and Cory Doctorow -- pretty much in that order, and for different reasons that don't necessarily mesh together in a perfectly coherent way. I try to keep my eye on the folks at Free Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but who else do you all like and support especially? The temptations to libertopian technophilia seem to be well-nigh irresistible among even the best and brightest thinkers and activists in this area, so one must proceed with extreme caution, I find.)
9. Supporting campaigns to introduce a second, directly democratically elected body to the United Nations equal in status and power to the present General Assembly, the members of which are appointed by Sovereign States, as well as to ensure the Security Council better reflects the actually-existing planetary balance of powers. (I do think that the United Nations, and the International Criminal and Environmental Courts need to be able to make recourse to global peacekeeping forces that are not beholden first to particular national interests, especially if global rights, labor, health, education, welfare, environmental, arms proliferation standards are actually enforced -- however, it seems crucial to me that the United Nations must be democratized before it is militarized).
(Together with the Basic Income Guarantee and the War Profiteering campaigns, I think it is here on the question of democratizing global governance that one finds one's way to the shakiest ground, at least in terms of relatively mainstream organizations with real money in their coffers or real energy in their wings. I am especially interested to hear from readers about their recommendations in these areas where active practical campaigns are concerned. I am well aware of the Citizens for Global Solutions and the Democratic World Federalists, as well as the promising but somewhat diffuse recent writings of Singer, Grieder, Monbiot, Held, and others on global democratic governance. Like the Basic Income people, these efforts seem to me incredibly well-meaning but somewhat not ready yet for prime time. Probably this means that these are efforts that demand special attention to those of us who recognize what priorities these ideas represent.)
10. Supporting campaigns to insist on basic standards concerning respect for human rights, labor and environmental standards, democratic governance, and free expression as a precondition for US trade relations with foreign nations.
(Like the above -- to which it is structurally connected -- I am all ears when it comes to practical campaigns in these areas. I pay close attention to Oxfam, to initiatives arising out of the United Nations, and so on in these areas. I am also interested in certification and labeling campaigns, and on the criteria that govern them, to increase awareness of such standards internationally, but these campaigns are often still unexpectedly quite fledgling, even on questions that matter to enormous numbers of people, like carbon neutrality, nontoxicity, fair labor practices, organic content, and so on. Let me know about practical campaigns in these areas that you guys know about.)