#11. Reforms, Radical Reforms,Transformative Claims


Blog 11 – Reforms, Radical Reforms, and Transformative Claims

Not all reforms are alike. Some are short-term, address a particular problem, are ameliorative; others are long-term, structural, aimed at the deeper sources of a range of problems. The former are realizable within the existing legal, economic, and social structures of power; others appear remote from realizable agendas of change. How can we distinguish between the three types, or locate demands and claims on the spectrum they represent? And do so in a situation, such as that outlined in Blog#10, in which the objective potential of wholesale transformative change is drastically limited by the limited strength of the forces for change?

What are groups, such as the Right to the City One movement or the Occupy movements, deeply critical of existing social, economic, and political structures, to do in a situation in which the realistic possibilities for achieving their fundamental goals are remote? Both the Right to the City movement and many of the Occupy movements increasingly recognize capitalism as a fault-ridden system in which the major faults do not arise because the system is not working, but are simply because it is the way the system does work. The protest slogan, THE SYSTEM IS NOT BROKEN, IT IS FIXED, expresses the point colloquially. What programs, proposals, actions, might be adopted to move best in the direction of the ultimately desired goals, not to fix it, but to replace it? (With what, is of course another question, and a big one; the term “socialism,” for instance, is not frequently foregrounded in discussions; but that is another matter.)

Four different paths might be considered on the road to action. To begin with the criteria used to distinguish them from each other (and there are very tentative, and should certainly be thought through further, perhaps amended or replaced – but being explicit on what criteria are use is important.

What does “transformative” mean, recognizing that there are gradients to it?
I. The criteria for Transformation

1. Does the proposal redress the relations of power that cause and maintain the problem being addressed?
2. Is the proposal deep enough, going to the roots of the problem, or only address symptoms?
3. Is the proposal broad enough, taking into account all of the other factors affecting the desired outcome?
4. Does the proposal guarantee that the basic needs addressed by the issue are met, before resources are devoted to, or distributed according to, other criteria, i.e. contribution or merit?
5. Does the proposal give priority to human use values over economic market values, and respect the natural environment
6. Does the proposal provoke questions and make legitimate actions that go outside the existing framework of laws and institutions?

Examples below will help clarify application of these criteria. It should be clear that none will be met absolutely; they will be on the spectrum of actions categorized below.

II. The Four Types of Proposals

A. Efficiency reforms.

Some proposals are simply designed to make what is already being done more efficient, to achieve existing goals more economically or more cheaply. They may be simple proposals for greater use of technical advances (sharing medical information on a common computer system , facilitating larger markets and faster transactions in it), or streamlining administrative structures (one-stop regulatory decisions, consolidating bureaucracies, avoiding duplication of functions), or better accounting practices (requiring consistency in reporting, setting uniform standards, more requirements for more transparent reporting). These are reforms that can be accomplished with the existing patterns of power, on which often full consensus of all parties can be achieved. They are system-maintaining.

Every such change has some distributional impact: better reporting can help outsiders more than insiders, sharing information can reduce patients’ health costs or doctors’ incomes, larger markets can be more of a benefit for big firms than small. But these are side effects, of marginal significance, and do not move in the direction of significant social change.

They rely on the pressure of technical opinion for implementation.

B. Liberal reforms:

Liberal reforms are aimed at ameliorating the most undesired aspects of any given pattern or plicy. The focus is on the undesired consequences, on the systems rather than the sources, and the objective is to achieve the desired result by consensus, agreement of all parties. Relations of power are not addressed as such, and definitions of equity, to the extent the goal is explicit, take into account existing relationships and work within them. Ideally, the objective is to avoid harm to some without causing harm to others. Liberal reforms may have efficiency components as well. If they challenge the system at all, it is incidental to their explicit goals. Full inclusion within existing systems of production and distribution is often formulated as the goal.

They rely on public relations and electoral activity for implementation.

C. Radical reforms.

Going beyond liberal reforms, some reforms seek redistribution: to reduce inequality, in the process confronting the fact that some will benefit at the expense of others previously better off. Not only symptoms but also causes are sought out, but stopping short of the comprehensive analysis that a transformative approach would entail. Reforms remain doable within the existing system of institutions and laws, although perhaps significantly changing relations of power and wealth within them. They may challenge the existing system, but only incidentally. Patterns of production as well as of distribution are often addressed, but with limited remedial objectives.

They combine electoral activity with social movement and intellectual agitation for implementation.

D. Transformative claims.

Transformative claims seek to address the underlying systemic causes of inequities and injustices, looking comprehensively at the root causes of a particular problem but also at the systemic and institutional factors that nurture it. Their criteria are first and foremost meeting human needs, only secondarily merit or performance. They seek to meet the criteria suggested above, as to relations of power, depth of analysis, breadth of analysis, and satisfaction of needs. They are system challenging. They may include, in practice, liberal and radical proposals, but argue explicitly that their necessary ultimate goal goes beyond these and must be full transformation.

They provoke questions and support the legitimacy of actions that include but go beyond the technical, the electoral, the public relations and the social movement, and are not constrained by the existing framework of laws and institutions.

The taxonomy is cumulative, that is, Liberal proposals will have efficiency components, Radical proposals will have liberal and efficiency components, transformative proposals will have radical, liberal, and efficiency components.
III. Examples:

[These examples are suggested only as illustrative, and are thus far really only perfunctorily sketched. For each, there are groups and individuals who have gone much further in working out demands and claims, at all levels, who should be consulted on each issue. The point here is only to suggest the kind of differences to be found on each, and in each case running along a non-exclusive spectrum from dealing merely with efficiency to presenting the need for full-scale transformation. More detail and other examples would be welcome.]:

Higher education:
A: Efficiency reforms: Standardized conditions of private loans
B: Liberal reforms: Provide a public option for loans; provide substantially increased public grants
C: Radical reforms: Limit scope of private for-profit institutions.
D: Transformative Claims: Make higher education free.

Mortgage foreclosure :

A: Efficiency reforms: Higher reserve requirements of banks; judicial review of sloppy paper work.
B: Liberal reforms: Expand opportunities for voluntary renegotiation of loans; subsidize lowering of interest rates and writ-downs of loans; regulate rents taking into account landlords’ finances.
C: Radical reforms: Require write-down of loan principals; mandate continued occupancy at reasonable rents after foreclosure; facilitate non-profit administration; regulate rents taking into account occupants’ finances.
D: Transformative Claims: Remove housing from the speculative market through public acquisition or facilitation of conversion to private non-profit, limited equity, cooperative, or community land trust ownership, with adequate subsidies to cover maintenance and utilities at levels affordable to lower-income occupants; confiscatory taxation of speculative profits.

Public Space:
A: Efficiency reforms: Administer to protect surrounding property values.
B: Liberal reforms: Provide, expand, and administer to protect surrounding property values and quality of life of neighbors; regulate use by reasonable police measures; give zoning bonuses where privately provided.
C: Radical reforms: Provide, expand, and administer taking into account needs of surrounding community; Protect use against police repression, Require private provision in connection with new construction. Protect right of use by homeless.
D: Transformative Claims: Provide, expand, and administer adequately to satisfy the needs of the population as a whole; give priority to uses appropriate for the exercise of political democratic rights; mandate public use for these purposes of private property where necessary. Provide supportive permanent housing for homeless users.

Health

A: Efficiency reforms: Planned decentralization/consolidation. Computerize records; permit cross-jurisdiction insurance in a transparent marketplace.
B: Liberal reforms: Finance Medicare and Medicaid properly. Permit unified bargaining with pharmaceutical companies
C: Radical reforms: Medicare for all. Buy out private hospitals and care facilities at asset, not income, values. National Health Service
D: Transformative Claims: Eliminate fee for service provision, comprehensive national health care system, without access restrictions.

Jobs and Labor Relations

A: Efficiency reforms: Full appointments to LRB; adequate information to workers;
B: Liberal reforms: Adequate inspections and enforcement of FLS, health and safety standards; facilitation of discrimination cases. card checks for elections; indexing minimum wage levels
C: Radical reforms: Living wage requirements for all jobs; expanded public service jobs; ceilings on management and ownership incomes and benefits
D: Transformative Claims: Requirement of worker participation in decision=making in ownership; public provision of all essential services.

City Planning:

A: Efficiency reforms: A independent technically qualified City Planning Commission with adequate staff
B: Liberal reforms: Advisory community planning boards
C: Radical reforms: Community Planning Boards with decision-making powers
D: Transformative Claims: Public ownership of land, city-wide assembly of Planning Boards with decision-making power.

IV. Conclusion

Given, as argued in Blog #10, that the objective and subjective conditions are not ripe for full-scale transformation, given that transforming the subjective conditions which in fact currently vitiate the potential that is objectively present, given that it will be a long-term process of action and education that will change these conditions, given that proposals in the real world are likely to be blend of types from efficient to liberal to radical, what practical conclusions for action can be drawn, if transformation is seen as a social and moral necessity?

The first conclusion is that all reforms, all demands, all claims, should include a transformative component, one that accompanies practical implementation with the acknowledgement of the transformations that would be needed for their ultimate success. That may appear as a purely theoretical tail on the frenetic dog of actual practice, but in the long run it is a crucial one. If a problem that is systemic is only approached in isolation, if its root are not exposed, its context ignored, it logical implications for action not considered, it will remain a problem and, if ameliorated, recur in other forms later.

The second conclusion is a more tentative one. The capitalist system is not a homogeneous one; it has contradictions and inconsistencies, and the extent to which capitalist forms, with their priorities for profit-making and accumulation give way to other forms of proceeding. The provision of police services, for instance, or of fire services, or some health inspection functions, are essentially non-capitalist, as any sophisticated welfare economics analysis will explain. The limitations of the physical environment, from global warming to exhaustion of natural resources to avoidance of cataclysmic disasters (think nuclear energy), may pose other limits to the pervasiveness of capitalist forms. But other areas of activity, other economic sectors, that re currently run on conventional capitalist market principles might be similarly excluded from the scope of market relations even without a wholesale transformation of the entire system. For instance, it is not inherently necessary for capitalism to survive that health care be provided only on a fee for service basis, or that education could not be entirely a matter of public provision. It is even conceivable (even intimations in the Marxist literature make the point) that the private control of land and its allocation on market principles is a hindrance to capitalist development; perhaps housing, at least up to some level of private luxury provision, could be taken out of the market.

In other words, transformative claims may indeed by realistic, even given today’s balance of power, without necessarily transforming the system as a whole. A sectoral approach, but one which addresses directly and up front the necessity for full transformation within that sector, might be an approach with possibilities of short-term successes. Transformative demands do not need to be all-encompassing, but they need to be clear both in their recognition of what is ultimately needed and in their frank acceptance of their limitations in the present situation.

Advertisements

#10 – The Changes in Occupy and the Right to the City


Blog #10 – The Changing Character of Occupy and the Right to the City

I. The Historical Roots of Occupy and the Right to the City

Both the Occupy movements and the Right to the City movements, two of the most active and most influential nation-wide groupings in the progressive urban arena today, spring out of deep dissatisfaction with things as they are.. That system is broadly known as capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system, with social, cultural, and political aspects, that has produced rapid technological progress, major material benefits, and been accompanied by new social and cultural patterns. But capitalism has also been accompanied by with many severe drawbacks, initially inevitable as the system developed, but no longer necessary. Alternatives are feasible today; another world is today possible, in which the full development of each and all individual’s capacities is set as the goal of social organization, replacing the profit motive and the accumulation of wealth as the driving force of the society.

The contradiction between the existing and the possible has surfaced periodically over time, in the anti-colonial struggles, in working class organization, in artistic expression, in human behavior in everyday life. It came together a one articulate burst in the explosions of 1968. Three sources of frustration with the existing can be distinguished: the materially exploited, the socially and politically oppressed, and the intellectually and culturally discontented. Fundamental structural change seemed possible, even revolutionary change. There is today no objective reason why poverty needs to exist, why inequality stunts the development of some and enriches others beyond use, lets some groups oppress others, sanctions wars and violence to resolve disputes; the system is today capable of creating would have been a utopian a hundred years ago. That fact is an objective one; and its recognition might have objectively led to an explosion such as that of 1968, but reaching much deeper and more broadly. Yet the subjective conditions that were also necessary for it to find expression were not adequate; the power of those who might be the agents of change towards a different society were not powerful enough to overcome the strength of the forces sustaining the status quo. The system still delivered the goods, at least widely enough to prevent broad resistance. The situation did not develop as those prominent in the movements for change had hoped. In short, revolution did not occur, the power of the movement abated, protest and resistance remained, but revolution did not take place and is not today on the agenda. Thus the underlying impetus for revolutionary change that had flowered in 1968 remained underneath, but its concretization in revolutionary change was off the agenda.

That the spirit of 1968 has continued and is part of the DNA of the Occupy movement and the Right to the City movements in following years can be seen from some of their slogans:

CAPITALISM ISN’T WORKING
WE WANT FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE, NOT ELECTORAL POLITICS
IF VOTING CHANGED ANYTHING, THEY’D MAKE IT ILLEGAL
OCCUPY WALL STREET, SHUT DOWN CAPITALISM

What both Occupy and Right to the City wanted was—even if the word was not often used—revolution [note to pm: resist the temptation to capitalize!). What to call it, retaining both its historical meaning but avoiding the shock of its initial reception in the public sphere, could be called other things, blending the process with its desired outcome (a distinction deserving further comment):

“Major change” or “structural change” or change“ affecting the totality of a social complex ”or “outside of the established framework
“Another World” but that might mean many different things;
“Progressive change,” or “social democracy” – But the terms seem to induce an eyes=glazed-over indifference among the larger public;”
“Socialism” – a plausible formulation if taken in its essential rather than really-existing meaning, but withmuch to much baggage needing unpacking to be useful in most discussions; or, from a socialist, to avoid the bagage:
A system with “such dramatic change that it can no longer be regarded as capitalism.”
“Transformation” – a rather bland term, but useful term precisely because of its generality. It can be given concrete meaning as the totality of those changes in individual components of the system but not fully effective without changes in the system as a whole, that are transformative, contributing to transformation.

In what follows the terms “revolution” and “transformation” are used interchangeably.

I. The Objective and Subjective Conditions for Transformative Change

S0: since 1968, at least, objectively, the situation is ripe for transformation. The contradictions in the system are manifold, but the subjective forces are inadequately mobilized. Within the existing relations of power, those who are objectively potential agents of change are not subjectively dedicated to marshaling their power to achieve that change, and those among them who are nevertheless thus dedicated face the subjective unreadiness of others as a present objective roadblock to progress. In one formulation, “…contradictions do not explode by themselves,” contradictions only produce change when there are agents of change with the desire and the ability to catalyze that change.

But there is a problem here: agents desiring change may well have that desire, but not the ability to bring it to fruition. Objectively, the class forces supporting the essential status quo may be too strong, have advanced technology of repression at their disposal and be willing to use it brutally in many countries (Libya, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc.). In technologically further developed societies they can still produce the goods well enough so that, while the forces of resistance may be allowed to manifest their unrest, they are prevented from getting the support necessary to overcome the ideological and social and economic weapons, as well as the brute force, at the disposal of those in power.

What do social forces do when they want revolution, but the time isn’t ripe for it?

Henri Lefebvre and Herbert Marcuse, in over-lapping but not identical ways, gave expression to the dilemma in the context of 1968:

H. Marcuse, in 1969.:

One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including the morality of existing society? There is one thing we can say with complete assurance: the traditional idea of revolution and the traditional strategy of revolution has ended. These ideas are old fashioned. What we must undertake is a type of diffuse and dispersed disintegration of the system.

H. Lefebvre in 1970:

The massive involvement of those affected would alter this state of afairs [the blockage of the exploration of the possible.] Would it enable those thoughts and projects to cross the threshold before which they seem to hesitate [pm-the threshold of revolution?] Possibly. But that involvement has never taken place. .. there has been no trace of any political movement—that is, the politicization of the problems and objectives of “construction.”

Guy Debord already in 1967 for the Situationists:

[Revolutionary critique must] work among the irreconcilable enemies of the spectacle, and admit that without them it is nothing; [in between times,] it must know how to wait.

II. Transformation

The concept of transformation can indeed be seen as an updating of the concept of revolution, in a post-socialist, post-Fordist, urban and one-dimensional world.

“It may be ruled out that immediate economic crises of themselves produce fundamental historic events; they can simply create a terrain more favourable to the dissemination of certain modes of thought, and certain ways of posing and resolving questions involving the entire subsequent development of national life”.

“transformation”, … in everyday political language mostly involves a process of restructuring of society over long periods of time and in the midst of tedious disputes, [with] an additional aspect: subjectivity.

In concrete terms relevant to the future work of Occupy or Right to the City groups, this means several realizations:

1. Immediate goals must be seen in long-term perspective, linking “tedious disputes” to fundamental broad objectives;
2. A wide variety of tactics must be considered must be considered in conjunction with each other, ranging from dramatic and militant protest to influencing legislative and electoral decisions and attention to public relations on a continuing,
3. “Internal “education and organization must have a prominent place in all campaigns for change, linking the immediate and the transformative goals of action;
4. “External” education, of those who objectively have in common the experience of exploitation, domination, and exclusion, but do not subjectively link their experience to the nature of the dominant social structures, is vital, if the objective relations of power which are to be changed to permit transformation;
5. Clarity must be achieved in the understanding and analysis of the causes of those common negative experiences, perhaps using the recognition of the meaning and functioning of capitalism as its centerpiece, the framework for most detailed analysis.

III. The Multiple Lives of Occupy and the Right to the City

What the various Occupy and Right to the City movements have done while waiting have taken quite diffused and dispersed forms, have politicized the problems they saw in quite varying ways over time and space. So varying, indeed, that one might speak of quite different manifestations of each, , leading quite different lives, different targets, different organizational forms, different spatial forms, much so that one might almost speak of the three different lives of the Occupy movement and the three different lives of the Right to the City movement, roughly appearing in chronological order but very much overlapping and simultaneously active.

While the two organized movements with roots in 1968 discussed here , the right to the city and the Occupy Wall Street movements .both reflect the underlying impetus for change, the congealed demands of the exploited, the oppressed, and the discontented, they have not replaced earlier similarly based movements: those of the working class, the anti-colonial, the anarchist, the communist, the urban social movements, the pro-democratic. But these two are the most active and interesting today; in any event, they are the ones discussed below. .
A. The Right to the City movements.

The web site of the Right to the City Alliance provides the following history:

Right to the City was born out of desire and need by organizers and allies around the country to have a stronger movement for urban justice. But it was also born out of the power of an idea of a new kind of urban politics that asserts that everyone, particularly the disenfranchised, not only has a right to the city, but as inhabitants, have a right to shape it, design it, and operationalize an urban human rights agenda.

In the realm of ideas, a key resource and touchstone is “Le droite à la ville” (Right to the City) a book published in 1968 by French intellectual and philosopher Henri Lefebvre. In the sphere of human rights, this powerful idea was adopted by the World Urban Forum and elaborated into the World Charter of the Right to the City in 2004.

Building from this powerful idea, international principles, and forward looking grassroots organizing, the Right to the City Alliance was established in January 2007.

We can already trace the three elements of the Right to the City in the formulation.

1. Right to the City One: The ideological concept.

Historically, going back to in its current meaning, developed in 1968 by Lefebvre and popularized in the demonstrations in Paris and other cities. In Lefebvre, the city, the urban, is seen not as the existing, but as the alternative content in a new society, perhaps implicitly assumed to be socialist in Lefebvre’s somewhat undisciplined writings. There is by now an enormous literature on this, with many open questions as to precise meaning. Common to most understandings is that the term “city” is used, not to mean the existing city, but as a synecdoche, a metaphor, for a society implementing an idealized vision of what urban life could and should be, that “right” is taken as a moral claim, not a legal proposition.

In this usage the right to the city is a “cry and a demand,” a slogan that legitimates and ties together many concrete demands but is not limited to them, but envisages a revolutionary change in what current cities are. Lefebvre does not pay explicit attention to the means by which the city he speaks of would be brought about. When he speaks of an urban revolution, he is speaking of the transformation of society from an industrialized to an urbanized contour, not a set of actions that would produce a further change. The right to the city is a slogan that has caught on, and is used as a framework for much of the activity covered by Right to the City Three.

2. Right to the City Two: the liberal version.

Here the slogan becomes an abstract statement of theoretical human rights, as in Declarations of the Rights to the City in the World Charter and other international conferences. It includes an assembly of separate programmatic immediate realistic goals, seen as achievable and enforceable with the prevailing systems of law and governance. It has a potential to assist in bringing together at an international level, many complimentary campaigns and organizations, but it is only thinly linked to Right to the City One.

3. Right to the city Three: Alliance of Individual Issues.

The use that reflects the existing practice, urban social movements/organizations banding together in a Right to the City Alliance, an assemblage of specific diverse groups, ranging from the homeless to GLBT, to welfare recipients, to public housing tenants, etc., addressed by more or less militant action but within the system. The transformative nature of the demands made may or may not lie in the background, but the view that the problems are caused by common characteristics of the system is nevertheless shared.
B. Occupy

“Occupy,” as the term is used by the various groups using it as part of their names, has very different meanings: the word “occupy” in “Occupy Wall Street” means one thing, in “Occupy Los Angeles” another in “Occupy Brooklyn;” it means something else again “Occupy Everything;” in “Occupy Wikipedia” something other than in “Occupy police., or in “Occupy Peace, or in “Occupy the System.”.” The only definition that would permit its substitution for the term in each usage would be: “Actively Engage in Changing _______” But it can have an ambiguous meaning: Liberate a foreclosed home, or occupy a factory in a sit-in, as well as Occupy the West Bank to displace its occupants. It is used here in the sense of the original Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, as liberatory in a progressive direction. (see Occupy One below.) Of course the Occupy movement is not a formal body and has many and divergent positions within it, but I believe the discussion below reflects the predominant voices and views.

Schematically, then:

1. Occupy One: Class Targeted Discourse.

Wall Street as symbolic of the ruling elite, l% if not just income. Wall Street as representative of the ruling elite, seen as in conflict with the 99%, rejecting compromise/consensus seeking solutions. . Aimed at raising consciousness, affecting the discourse, getting picked up by others e.g. in election campaigns, and eschewing specific concrete “demands” and programmatic goals in favor of principled positions. Seeking transformation in the social structure as a whole. Thus far, avoiding direct dealing with issues of power and real-politik.

2. Occupy Two: Physically Take Over Spaces.

Literally, occupy spaces, originally those directly sympbolic of and/or locted in the heart of the beast, as in Zuccotti Park, or Oakland. The expansion of this approach to site occupation to explore the uses of public space in particular, and to focus on the democratic aspect of arrangements for the provision and use of public space, is consistent with Occupy One, but something of a dilution of its confrontational and class-related aspect., dealing with much less than the systemic whole of the former. But It can lead to what I have called a fetishized conception of space.

3. Occupy Three: An Umbrella Function.

All Occupy groups have been very open and supportive of other campaigns that they see as moving in the same direction as their own broad vision. This includes both campaigns with immediate and limited goals, e.g. picket lines at anti-union employers, as well as less immediate goals, as in in Occupy Los Angeles, , or Occupy the Economy, or Occupy Columbia, or Occupy Production. Here Occupy has by and large subordinated its transformative approaches to the immediate needs of the action it is supporting.

4. Occupy Four: Occupy as Process.

From the start, Occupy groups have been very conscious of their internal procedures of discussion and decision-making. Occupy spatial encampments are seen by their participants as models of what democratic processes would be. The General Assemblies, at which all members can speak and vote, with instant voting by show of hands and hand gestures, with 90% majority requirements and attention being given to the varying strength of individual objections, are all seen as prototypes of how a society as a whole might operate. Attention is not, however, to my knowledge, focused on how such techniques might be carried over into actual governmental or organizational procedures outside of the encampments.

IV. Conclusion: Evolution to Revolution?

While each of the forms of the Right to the City and the Occupy movements co-exist with each of the other forms, there is a pattern of development that becomes apparent. It runs from a full-blown commitment to social transformation to more narrowly focused attention to specific sectors of the existing structure in need of change to a practice in which immediate campaigns for reform are supported theoretically as parts of a comprehensive attack on the whole but in practice become increasingly ends in themselves. In the process, the historical current of deep dissatisfaction remains underneath all developments, but the sharp focus on the critique of the existing system, of capitalism, moves to the background, is subject to co-optation, is split up into multiple separate issues, the common source of each reflected more in individual practical actions than in ideological analysis and consciousness.

In general, the movement can be seen as being objectively in the direction of transformation, but its subjective focus becomes dimmed in the face of the apparent impracticality of successful attack on the system as a whole. The fact of this subjective weakness becomes a part of the objective reality confronting the movements, and of necessity influences their shorter-term practices and goals. While achieving certain important rights in the city, ensuring the democratic occupancy of effective public spaces in cities, moving the public discourse to greater concern with issues of inequality and participatory democracy, are important goals in themselves, they are not the ultimate goals that inspired these movements in their early days.

That development is then a logical, if not inevitable consequence of the real historical situation in which the participants find themselves, in which the objective conditions for transformation, for revolution, initially seem to be present, but in which immediate transformation, the likelihood of revolution in its classical sense, undercuts that real potential and seems to become a utopian chimera. Piecemeal evolution, abandoning the possibility of a wholesale transformation, seems the only sensible answer to the problem to the constraints of historical reality. A complete transformation from one explosive manifestation, the traditional view of revolution, certainly does not seem to be in the cards. Is evolution to revolution, transition to transformation, possible?

There is, I believe, increasing recognition of the need to confront this situation within the movements themselves, and to consider alternative paths ahead. In the next blog, #11, some possibilities are explored.