Introduction to Forward Movement

The aim of Forward Movement is not to educate people about the notion of a Resource Based Economy as advocated by The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project, but to make an intervention into those circles whom already understand and advocate a Resource Based Economy, to consider a change of our approach.

The common path of transition that TZM/TVP advocates is one of raising awareness and spreading propaganda about the end goal. While this is an important action, action limited to this is an approach is reminiscent of the approaches of the utopian socialists Saint-Simon and Fourier of late eighteenth century France. They believed that change came about as the result of new scientific discoveries, that reason would triumph as a result of education and the gradual spread of ideas, to transform the world.

Much like Jacque Fresco’s conception of circular cities or the idea of transition towns, Saint-Simon envisioned phalansteries, which would propagate until harmony would conquer the globe. He even advertised for investors, announcing in the press that he could be found in a certain cafe at the same time every week if any capitalist wished to find out about his projects (no one came).

The principles of an RBE we advocate, from the application of systems theory and proximity strategy to the rationing of resources or production directly for human needs, tend to fetch two kinds of responses from the public.

  1. Embrace of the ideas as plain common sense.
  2. Refusal to entertain the idea because there is no means nor method for its application.

Therefore, our primary focus must become the building of a network through which these common sense ideas can be applied. Since these ideas are to be applied in the economy, reorganising how the economy works,  this network must have a basis in the economy as it is now:

  1. Access to the buildings/tools/technologies/materials/resources (aka “the means of production”) currently existing in workplaces.
  2. The workers (employees) whose labour directs the means of production, whom should be our primary targets for education and organisation.

By organising working people you gain both of these things. The barriers which prevent workers from implementing their common sense and the principles of a RBE are also two:

  1. These workers are currently subservient to their bosses decisions, which are made by the competitive, profit-driven “economic” principles of today, while the workers lack confidence to defy their bosses to apply their own common sense.
  2. The boss’s ownership and subsequent control over the means of production is backed by the repressive measures of the state–the police and jails.

What it requires to overcome the bosses and the state is widespread involvement and organisation, as frequently happens to varying degrees throughout capitalism’s history. Employees not only vastly outnumber capitalists (employers and investors), but for capitalists to have any power at all requires workers’ obedience. Workers only lack the power to do the common sense obvious until they organise to take the operations of the economy into their own hands.

The biggest general strikes in history have included tens of millions of workers. When such general strikes are prolonged, the question naturally arises of how us workers will meet their needs while they strike, while denying the needs of those whom we are opposing. How are we going to produce and distribute necessary products and services, food especially. Fortunately, workers are exactly the ones capable of doing the work required to meet each-others’ needs, if we organise and work together. When we do so they realise how unnecessary the bosses and union officials really are. We can manage our own work, coordinating ourselves on any scale by forming our own workplace assemblies and delegating accountable inter-workplace councils and committees. This has indeed happened to varying degrees in many historical instances, so it is entirely realistic.

Changes in peoples values advance at an accelerated rate in such times. If any one worker or minority group thereof attempts to subvert the revolution for their own selfish purposes, other workers can respond by simply refusing to cooperate with such workers. But because all workers depend on each-others’ labour to create the goods and services every other worker needs, it is ensured that workers’ cooperate with each-other in a way that is equal. Such dynamics ensure fair and collaborative socio-economic relations during and after such a revolution.

Once workers consolidate their collective control, under such self-organisation, workers will naturally wish to automate their roles to relieve themselves of labour, and reorganise their participation as former roles become obsolete. The reasons such historical instances haven’t resulted in such maximal automation is simply because they had not the time to develop their organisations to their fullest potential and direct them to such tasks. The same can be said for other aspects of a RBE, including not just automation, but even the complete replacement of all money-relations with collaborative decision-making. Though the complete abolition of money has even occurred in some instances.

When workers take power there can be no private ownership over the means of production, they can only be held in common, cooperation and inclusion becomes the norm through the necessities of their situation. In such circumstances, any suggestion of increased durability in place of obsolescence, or for dismissing laborious roles that provide no necessary or useful commodities or services, indeed any suggestion of any part of the goal of a RBE that can be implemented in the moment will be readily taken up and acted upon, for they are all simply common sense proposals.

Instead, however, most of these strikes became little more and ended with only concessions from their governments and bosses. Such concessions have improved workers’ lives tremendously and reduced the rate of their exploitation, but not to the degree of complete social liberation through revolution. Though many do become convinced through such experience of a new way forward, having demonstrated the potential for a complete break with capitalism. Even much less dramatic instances of workers having some power over their workplaces, such as more moderate actions within official union procedure, workers can gain much confidence and become more open to the idea of running the economy themselves and by a new train of thought. 

If under such potentially-revolutionary circumstances there is an organisation, a group of activists within and without the workplaces, who can effectively argue that workers should continue to run the economy without the bosses, the changes could have become permanent. To be successful, this group needs not only the vision of a RBE, but also a thorough knowledge of the history or workers’ revolts and the lessons to be gained from this rich history. They need to argue, not only for the end goal, but also the way forward. They need thorough knowledge of the trials, successes and failures, of the worker’s movements of history and the present day. Armed with such information, such a group as us could aid and lead workers to victory, to triumph over capitalism, to the abolishment of classes, the state and money, to the complete creation of a RBE.

Workers’ rebellions are a normal feature of capitalism, occurring most thoroughly in times of economic crises, and such crises are a periodic feature of capitalism. Our method must therefore be to educate ourselves and others in the history of workers’ rebellions so that we can learn from these experiences, and act on this knowledge when crisis or opportunity arises. We must today organise ourselves to incite, intervene in, and be a part of these struggles for workers’ collective self-determination.

Two things above all that we must learn from this rich history are that

  1. We must organise and educate ourselves before the opportune moments arise, so that we are ready to act when they do. From today onwards, such a group can teach others and recruit into its ranks students, intellectuals and workers. We can support workers’ strikes and protest campaigns against government policies, to increase our profile and bonds with workers and the community, and to find interested and motivated people with which to build membership.
  2. Success will require our victory over the capitalist class, who never cease to sabotage the organisations of workers and will only try to derail us from our goal of our collective self-emancipation.

To learn more of this history, I will recommend the book: Revolutionary Rehearsals, by multiple authors and edited by Colin Barker. It’s five chapters cover briefly significant instances of such action and the lessons we can draw, as the histories of France in 1968, Chile in 1972-73, Portugal in 1974-75, Iran in 1979, Poland in 1980-81.

Forward Movement for updates

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On Being the Change

What it means to “be” the change is not always as obvious as it may at first sound. Most of the defining aspects of a Resource Based Economy are inter-personal and global in nature, beyond the potential of an individual or even a group thereof. This is not to say that we can’t take actions as individuals and as groups, we most certainly can, but what change of our actions aligns with this goal?

The active human component of a Resource based economy is its multidisciplinary teams. Peter Joseph of The Zeitgeist Movement describes these teams as the developers of the economic system, working to maintain and continually upgrade it, arriving at their decisions via the scientific method. This is the change to be if a Resource Based Economy is our goal because this is the active human agent that creates a Resource Based Economy.

But how can we possibly be this change – We don’t have the equiptment or resources to be this change, nor the economic ability to sustain ourselves while we make change, or do we? At our workplaces, we have all of these things. In a RBE, workers run their places of work, rather than the other way around. This is the change we have to be, and we can start doing this in small steps. This blog provides examples of workers doing just that at different levels, and how they did it!

Forward Movement for updates

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France 1968 — Lessons for Transition

The following quote is a history of France in 1968. It provides valuable insight into how an economy run by multidisciplinary teams in alignment with the life sequence of value can come about. When this happens again in a big way, a development towards the goal of a Resource Based Economy will certainly be on the cards.

“Within a fortnight more than nine million workers were on strike. Every sector was involved; as one eye-witness reported: ‘On Wednesday the undertakers went on strike, now is not the time to die.’

A general strike inevitably poses the question of power … at the level of the factory, of society and of the state. The fact that French workers followed the students’ example and occupied their workplaces added a new dimension to the strike; the sacred right of property, and management’s right to manage, were under threat.

But the enormous power unleashed by a general strike also poses problems … If the whole working class stops work simultaneously it simply condemns itself to starvation. The general strike therefore necessarily raises the question of control; some production and services must continue, but workers must decide which ones and in what form.”

For the purposes of arriving at such decisions, the workers of many workplaces founded multidisciplinary teams in the form of strike committees. Such is the common solution in sizeable prolonged strikes. Unfortunately, however, most workplaces came to be controlled by union bureaucracies, who discouraged mass workers’ assemblies and sent workers home.

But many of these workers became activists who rapidly innovated other forms of multidisciplinary teams called action committees. These were based either on their locale or workplace. Students also set up their own groups and joint student-worker bodies. Through collective action, people took to the tasks of the day.

In what was a widespread break from upholding the money sequence of value, they arranged food provisions, transport, and other services for other striking workers, especially those whom occupied their workplaces. Focussing on the life sequence of value, and looking after one-another, they organised portions of the economy, without capitalist bosses, thereby becoming a real threat to capitalism.

Furthermore, they produced and distributed vast amounts of leaflets and fly-posters and organised street meetings, film screenings and photo exhibitions (for instance showing police repression). They thereby gained mass support and participation. The movement peaked at the city of Nantes where workers’ organisations effectively ran the city, rendering the police and the administration powerless.

The French workers created the embryo of a new society within the shell of the old. Such an event is a repeating feature of capitalism. But even with such promising beginnings, this movement derailed after achieving only reforms sich as pay-rises. Like all histories of workers’ rebellion, we must learn their lessons, we must remember so we may helpfully participate in the next rebellious upsurge and ensure its most thorough development.

Those who saw the potential of these events for sparking a mass and permanent change to society could have established a larger working body long before this mass rebellion, building from smaller workers’ rebellions. If such a party argued that workers should disobey, not just their employers but also their union bureaubracies, and run the factories themselves, the momentum could have sustained to a transformation more complete.

If this situation had progressed further along its this trajectory, the destination would have been a Resource Based Economy.

Forward Movement for updates

Quote source:
Revolutionary Rehearsals, Chapter 1 France 1968, by Ian Birchall (worth reading)

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Relating to the Labour Movement

Advocates of a Resource Based Economy agree that access abundance mitigates social conflict at its root, that this is potential only through technologically-advanced industry, and that the attainment of such an industrial complex requires multidisciplinary teams working for this purpose. Employees have created every commodity you own today, could they create the apparatus for global abundance? Technically, no one else can.

This is why we must relate to workers, who alone can make transition a reality, especially relations through the labour movement. The labour movement is the united action of workers from a multitude of disciplines and industries, often most active in times of economic crisis. Their campaigns typically focus on various immediate and attainable goals that all workers can relate to, such as increased remuneration, workplace safety, job security, better staff to student/patient ratios in public institutions, or something else.

The process of winning such reforms tends to instil into its participants many social values necessary for the formation of a Resource Based Economy. For example, bigotry based on racial, gender or sexual discrimination are barriers to a cooperative society, as they are barriers to the cooperation of the labour movement. Success in both cases requires we relinquish such bigotry by necessity, as regularly occurs in an active labour movement.

Workers’ most effective actions to impose their wills against economic or political authority are strikes, mass discontinuation of work, best combined with picket lines, human barriers to business as usual. These are genuine acts of defiance against the money sequence of value and for the life sequence of value. Observe these events and you’ll notice such multidisciplinary teamwork generates a cooperative culture both within workplaces and inter-workplace, harbouring the potential emergence of the first and transitionary multidisciplinary teams.

For these reasons and more, we must lend workers our active support to ensure their successes, while fostering such rebellion within our own workplace. Our support and workers’ success will foster workers’ confidence and a belief that a cooperative society is possible, through real-life demonstration. We can also use this interaction as a platform to argue for an economy founded on large-scale economic teamwork that, as this blog argues, will make the transition to a Resource Based Economy inevitable. Thereby, a movement for simple demands and reforms becomes a movement for the transformation of society, involving those capable of transforming it.

Forward Movement for updates

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Organising Workplace Activism

This blog has made the case for workplace activism, progressively turning our workplaces into what Peter Joseph of The Zeitgeist Movement calls “Multidisciplinary Teams”, and that the development of a Resource Based Economy will follow. How do we begin to organise this in the workplace? There is a process.

Unity in action is central to successful workplace activism. While we will likely not win our coworkers to the theoretical goal of a Resource Based Economy, we can win them to more conservative and immediate goals; A contract for yearly pay rises, safer work conditions, some issue that motivates our coworkers.

These demands upon employers are best won by workers refusing to work, blockading their workplaces instead, until they win. The participation of student movements and community activists may aid the blockade, especially helpful to smaller workplaces. Sometimes an organised threat to strike in negotiation may be enough.

When a goal is won there likely becomes greater confidence, organisation and membership density in the workplace. We can build towards bigger goals over time, like a shorter working day, these are small steps. During economic crisis workers may be especially motivated. When workers strike they can see that its there labour which makes the economy, and with it they can unmake it and remake it.

The strength of workers’ strikes can be amplified when other workplaces strike in support, or sometimes workers’ demands are industry-wide, or nationwide demands upon the government. This kind of cooperation not only wins, but teaches the workers of the necessity for mass cooperation to achieve anything. Positive social values develop best through this kind of experience.

How do we coordinate and arrive at decisions on the scale of an entire nation’s industry? One accountable way is by delegation. Once those in a given workplace arrive at their position on a topic relating beyond their workplace, they select someone who would best relay and debate their view among delegates from other workplaces in the industry.

Delegates are not politicians but coworkers known personally by those who elect them. They receive no special privileges, are affected by the a decision’s outcome just as everyone else and may be recalled and replaced by their coworkers at any time. This is the structure by which most workers’ unions operate.

Unions also develop a bureaucracy, a professional mediating layer between workers/delegates and their employers. This can discourage workers’ direct action because it is their job to come to resolve by negotiation. Direct action always wins the best results and better develops a cooperative culture.

Bureaucrats may even sell out, leaving it up to delegates’ and workers’ self-organisation and action to achieve successes. Delegate’s meetings provide opportunity for delegates to network with other delegates, thereby undermining bureaucracy and creating opportunity for delegates to argue for workers’ industry-wide or nation-wide actions.

Workplaces are dictatorships only to the degree that we remain subservient and divided. When we unite in our workplaces we can go even further than placing demands upon our employers and governments. We can begin taking matters into our own hands, using the resources of our workplaces to achieve certain ends, the ultimate end being a Resource Based Economy.

Forward Movement for updates

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Where Other Methods Fail

Many methods of activism aimed at resisting the status quo and initiating the transition to a new society have been suggested. Examples include forming and supporting ethical or cooperative businesses, developing economic communities or networks of some type, living rurally or developing permaculture systems in the city. While there are many ways to starve a beast, some are more effective, others have a fatal flaw.

The project of many to create transition towns as off-the-grid self-sustainable communities based on permacultural practices provides a worthy solution to the sustainable agriculture. However, it fails to address the problems of industrial society, at the same time using the products of industry. Permaculture is largely an individual production process. We need a way to acess resources for socially-organised and sustainable industrial production. The project of this blog is to provide such an answer.

As much as we may try to be separate from the system through transition towns, circular cities, communes or the like, insomuch as they are a realy sucess, it will simply become illegal for us to do so, if it isn’t already. By land taxes and intellectual property rights, by some multitude of ways, the system will ensure our participation in its competitive market. As in every other instance, this amounts to competing for the title of lowest regard for human and environmental well-being to avoid economic failure, or at best being limited to a fringe affair.

Since the agricultural revolution, history is a majority labouring for the accumulation of assets under the control of a privileged minority. From the violent state machines of the world to the global industrial complex of workplaces, all this is said to be legitimately owned by those who did not labour for its construction. Not only does the majority lack all these resources on their side, we are also forced to compete with the minority who has all this on their side, until we challenge that ownership and its justification.

While we must form out own socio-economic networks from scratch, there is no need to rebuild the world’s industrial hardware from scratch, to do so would also be environmentally irresponsible. Instead, a movement must fully dislodge all economic and political apparatus from minority rule. This movement must involve the imense majority of people in its decisions and actions is it is to result in a cooperative society, but that is likely for no such achievement is possible without mass involvement.

Such an approach hosts its own challenges, but none insurmountable, the groundwork begins now.

Forward Movement for updates

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Multidisciplinary Teamwork Against Apartheid

South Africa was once an apartheid state; blacks were seen as inferiors in law and harshly oppressed. Employees working at the docks of Australia’s seaports responded by organising their teamwork for the cause of opposing apartheid. In the processes of docking the ships and loading their goods, the workers of each subsequent role delayed their work by one day. It wasn’t a complete boycott of freight to and from South Africa, but a considerable slow down.

This amounted to significant financial loss for those transacting with the racist regime, thereby placing pressure on the South African government to repeal apartheid practice. It was one of a great many factors that ended South African apartheid. Nelson Mandela himself repeated significant thanks to Australia’s dock workers for their efforts.

These dock workers have taken many such initiatives, such as blocking the export of iron headed for army munitions factories, saving lives. It wasn’t easy, their bosses responded bitterly, sending police to remove the disobedient workers. But in unity there is strength, the workers’ non-violent resistance largely bet their bosses attempts to replace them. If the bosses would ever lose profits to ethics, we should celebrate it as a very rare event, against the historical norm.

Such inspiring examples will win hearts and minds to the fact that we need acts of civil disobedience in the workplace to make a better world. This history needs to be told, it needs to be repeated as it regularly does when workers organise themselves. A multidisciplinary team as isolated as this can’t create a Resource Based Economy on its own, but it demonstrates the social values and the method needed to construct one.

Forward Movement for updates

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