While dwelling on the state of the world during the combination of COP21 – determining the future fate of the human species – and the worsening chaos in southwest Asia (with the Rojava Revolution being the only beacon of light) I was trying to cobble together in my head what some viable solutions to the problems we all face might be.
Obviously the biggest problems are at the level of the global system itself: it’s centralised and militaristic state structure, its irrational economic setup premised upon infinite growth on a finite planet, various ideological forces (some religious, some not) trying to subordinate humanity to a single way of viewing the world, the continuing ecocide of the biosphere and nonhuman animals.
In the very long term, the only thing that will suffice as a solution is total system change. A structural transformation of the capitalist state system to a completely different social, political, and economic mode of power.
Though when you think that big, it can be easy to lose focus of how those systemic problems affect us all on the day-to-day level and in the here-and-now. It’s important to keep perspective on how to respond to the problems that are right in front of us, so that we don’t become so concerned with the big picture that we forget about the immediate local issues that need resolving.
Social anarchism isn’t just a vision of a non-hierarchical society that will exist some time in the distant future – after we dissolve every state, communalise the means of production, and flatten every social hierarchy – it’s a means of relating to the world that’s right in front of us which aims to decentralise power, challenge authority, and enhance individual and collective autonomy wherever possible. It’s a method of drawing out the liberatory potentials in what we already do and trying to push them to the forefront of our actions, so that our practices in the present prefigure the world we want to create in the future, helping to transfer us from one to the other.
So in the spirit of “practical utopianism”, I made a quick list of short-term to mid-term to long-term goals in order to help conceptualise where I think we should all be heading and what we should be pushing for. It’s by no means definitive or exhaustive. Merely a few suggestions to help get our minds focused on a coherent transitional process from where we are now to where we want to arrive at.
- Support for the individual struggles of oppressed groups of people (relative to where we each stand): women through feminist activism, people of colour through anti-racist activism, indigenous and colonised populations through decolonisation, LGBT+ folks, nonhuman animals, and so on.
- The construction of a future “economy of the commons” through the creation of things like worker-run cooperatives, participatory budgeting programs, community land trusts, and so on.
- Starting up democratic schools which emphasise free creativity, cooperative self-education, and self-realisation over the passive-receptive memorisation of rote tasks and factoids.
- Unionising the global workforce so as to resist the forces of corporate capital.
- Opposing the expansion of state power, especially surveillance, militarism, wars to access new markets for transnational capital, etc.
- Municipalisation – instead of nationalisation or privatisation – of economic resources, making them easier to manage locally and control democratically.
- Building an international movement (of movements) for climate justice to (1) avert ecological catastrophe, and (2) make sure green goals are fully concurrent with social goals for popular liberation and economic justice.
- Creating “infrastructures of resistance” to capital and the state, run according to the values of voluntary cooperation and decentralised federation, as part of a social anarchist “transfer-culture” which embodies the spirit of the new world, getting us used to the practice of freedom, equality, and solidarity.
- The automation, through the applied use of human-scale eco-technologies, of as much needless human toil as possible so as to eliminate jobs that fall under the “Three Ds”: Dull, Dirty, Dangerous. And the reduction of what anthropologist David Graeber calls “bullshit jobs” which have no reason to exist.
- The localisation – to as great a degree as is feasible – of the production of goods and services, especially food and manufacturing. Though with technics such as 3D printing, micro-manufacturing, open-source hardware, free software, and vertical farming, this may be easier than you think.
- Transition to a completely renewable (preferably localised) system of energy. With a particular focus (of course) on solar energy, wind, wave, and geothermal energy depending on the specifics of the community/region which needs power. (Nuclear power may need to be advocated as a necessary evil in a transitional phase, as a kind of methadone to wean us off of the heroin of fossil fuels)
- The devolution of economic and political power (of state, regional, and local governments) to directly-democratic popular assemblies – meaning the democratisation of finance, investment, allocation of big resources, and political life in general.
- Creation of a new kind of personal and social consciousness, centred on the values of personal autonomy, civil libertarianism, communal individuality, unity-in-diversity, inclusiveness, non-hierarchical ways of relating to each other, and ecological stewardship of the natural world.
- Elimination of the need for killing animals for food with cultured meat having been made viable.
- Full automation of almost all dull, dirty, and dangerous labour, giving people more freedom to pursue jobs which are creative, helpful, and empowering; and to work at their own leisure.
- Directly-democratic control of the economy at the level of the (worker self-managed) enterprise and (self-governing) locality – with administrative councils made up of spokespersons (as opposed to politicians) sent by each community to coordinate things on levels beyond the local.
- The rewinding of areas of the Earth which were spoiled by the existing industrialist economic system; possibly even reintroducing extinct species through cloning.
- An economy which has moved beyond scarcity to the point where markets and even money are no longer necessary, with people being able to take goods freely from stores.
- A reconciliation of the urban and the rural with the decentralisation and ecologisation of cities.
- The free movement of all people due to the elimination of nation-state borders and the equalisation of economic abundance.
- The birth of a new ecological global culture reconciling humanity with the natural world.
So basically, Post-Scarcity Anarchism.
There is no necessity for killing animals for food with or without viable cultured meat (and potentially there is danger that that kind of solution could be not enough).
You propose a lot of bold statements, which I approve and wish that we will achieve them step by step. But for that solutions big, wide changes in consciousness of many people must be made. I don’t see why in terms of problems of nonhuman animals we should propose morally (and technically) problematic solution as cultured meat instead of more clear vegan solution. It would need big changes in hearts and minds of big numbers of people, but so with another of your proposals.
I’m totally unconvinced that the majority of human beings can be turned vegan or vegetarian. All you have to do is look at the sheer number of people who write “Mmm, bacon!” on videos of piglets to see that there’s an insurmountable empathy gap.
All things considered, cultured meat is the most realistic solution to the issue of killing nonhumans for food.
Were you at the Beltane fire festival?