Welcome to a Dream of Collective Creation

This page lays out the different facets of our project in the form of 'dreams.' We hope you and others will join us in updating modifying, elaborating and REALIZING this 'Dream of Collective Creation' so that this project becomes a real RFO, takes off and flies.... Here's a chance to write yourself into the BACKSTORY of 'B&B the revolutionary computer-game that took over the world!' Possible titles for comic-book/text version: 'The Invisible International,' 'Mutiny on Spaceship Earth' or '2100 or Bust!'


CONTENTS of dreams:
1. The Dream of Collective Creation
2. A Trip to Ecotopia and The Dream of Ecotopias
3. The Dream of Revolutionary Emergence --
4. The Novel where you are the hero —
5. The B&B card game --
6. The multi-player on-line computer game

1. The Dream of Collective Creation

Here a 2013 update 'Collective Creation' designed for a graphic novel presentation:
Sketchpad for graphic novel based on ‘Billions versus Billionnaires’

Characters:
  • Penny Wonderful. She is the protagonist, will be the time traveler in the Dream of Utopias. Her character is active, positive, practical, with a good sense of humor. Think of ‘Beauty’ in the Disney ‘Beauty and the Beast’ movie. She is the graphic artist who will create ‘BvB’ (obviously based on you and my daughter Jenny)
  • Professor (or ‘Papi Marx’ or Papi Max). Penny’s grandfather. Idealistic, imaginative, sometimes naïve, heart of gold. Think of Beauty’s mad inventor father in the same movie. He should be drawn to look exactly like Albert Einstein.
  • Harry Hacker. Asian-American Internet genius. Tall and handsome. A bit older than Penny, who teases HH but secretly has a crush on him, while HH remains indifferent to PW’s charms. Is he lost in his work? or does he have a fastastic sex-life as he travels the world’s universities and centers? Might he be gay?
  • Kid Nerd. Harry’s sidekick. He’s the gamester, the prototype of the ‘Fishies’ who get hooked on the game BvB and spread the internationalist web to every land. He’s in love with Penny, who treats him as a brother. Problem: would have liked more people of color, but the Game world is apparently mostly white.

Scene I
First panel shows Penny’s 11th (?) birthday party. Cake with candles etc. Papi Marx (like his illustrious namesake) is down on all fours, playing horsie with the younger children on his back. Young versions of HH and KN are presented in characteristic poses, for example the latter playing a video-game. The year is 2000 (or whatever date we chose).

Next panels could show cake being cut or presents opened with group focused on Penny (maybe blowing out candles). Somehow the subject of global warming or climate change comes up (perhaps a joke about the candles’ heat) and suddenly a chill falls over the party.
Teenage Harry says not to worry: ‘Science will find a solution to the problem.’ Penny, bright as a penny, is quick to retort: ‘Harry, Science is the problem.’

Scene II (later that evening)
Penny’s bedroom. Papi is tucking her in. Maybe shown with a book, having read her a story. Intimate conversation.
‘Papi, how old are you? What year will it be when I’m your age?. What will life be like in 2050? Won’t the oceans rise and bring huge floods? Won’t there be droughts and terrible storms and epidemics with homeless people everywhere? If all that happens, you know what I would do Papi? I’d find some painless exit to leave this world, I wouldn’t want to be around to see that.’ (Actual verbatim conversation with my daughter, Jenny, aged 10, concerning possible nuclear war in 1985) ‘Papi, is there any chance left to save the planet?’
Papi replies: ‘I won’t lie to you my child. Maybe one chance in a hundred.’

Scene III (still later) ‘Papi’s Archimedes Moment’
The bathroom. A claw-foot tub. Papi is in tub with water running. He is mulling over in his head all the threats to the planet. All the questions from my litany of disasters on p. 1 of ‘Ecotopian Bet’ can be seen floating in the air over his head. For example:

weapons of mass destruction proliferating?
wars dragging on?
armed conflicts erupting?
refugees multiplying?
religions fanaticizing?
nationalists killing?
women being degraded?
famines and epidemics spreading? etc etc

He imagines (in a baloon) today’s world as a ship (boil down the gist of this, or, alternately develop it visually in split panels or such, showing the men in suits, the ship, the passangers and crew locked below decks in separate watertight compartments marked ‘religion’ and ‘nationality,’ etc):

“The men in suits who rule the world today have no plan for the future. Their main preoccupation is holding onto their power and wealth. Their perspectives are limited to inflating quarterly balance sheets and winning biennial election campaigns. If they don’t see any further into the future, it’s also because they unconsciously understand that there will be no future -- since they are busy murdering it. They are the officers of a ship drifting rudderless toward a rocky shore, busy looting the cargo, locking up the passengers and crew below decks and fighting among themselves for the booty. The name of that vessel is Starship Earth. Its only hope is that the passengers and crew can figure out a way to get organized and take over the bridge before it is too late. Even with the odds against us, it’s a bet we can’t refuse. Because like it or not, we are the all in the same boat, passengers and crew alike -- far out at sea and drifting toward shipwreck.”

Papi thinks, determined, ‘but if there is one chance in a hundred to save the planet, I/we ought to be able to visualize it. If there were only some way of linking together the passangers and crew so they could connect with each other and swarm the bridge all together...

Meanwhile, Papi has fallen asleep in the tub and the water is pouring out onto the floor. At this point Papi wakes up, sits up with his index finger point to the ceiling and shouts:

‘But wait a minute! There IS a way! EURIKA!’ Here maybe show your version of my crude visual representation of the Archimedes Hypothesis.

Scenes IV, V, VII, V all represent different venues where Papi attempts to present his revolutionary discovery, the Modern Archimedes Hypothesis. We see him being laughed at, people falling asleep, publishers refusing to publish his books and pamphlets, leftists squabbling over sectarian fine-points (‘what about the necessity of building a disciplined vanguard party to lead the masses?’) etc. In each of these panels, he is lecturing or writing. So as we follow Papi’s increasingly frustrating attempts to convince people, the whole Archimedes Hypothesis gets laid out, step by step, panel after panel. Obviously, you can edit down and improve the formulations for GraphicNovel format. I realize these are a lot of words. What about visualizing his lecture(s) and writings in the manner of Larry Gornicks Comic History of the Universe?

PAPI: They say that in ancient times, that bold philosopher and inventor Archimedes boasted: “Give me a lever long enough, a fulcrum, a place to stand, and I will raise the Earth!” Of course, we know Archimedes’ amazing feat was only a hypothesis -- a ‘thought experiment’ that could take place only in the mind. But Archimedes’s discovery was no less powerful for being a mere idea dreamed up by a philosopher. Long after Archimedes, inventions based on his hypothesis vastly multiplied the puny strength of human beings so that they were able to circumnavigate the globe and eventually to dominate it – for better or for worse. Can anyone then doubt the ability of an idea – a thought experiment -- to multiply human power?

PAPI: Our problem is to think up a similar hypothetical formula for multiplying human power so that our passengers and crew can “lift the Earth” before it is shipwrecked. Our mutineers will need a lot of leverage to overpower the officers who are fighting among themselves, looting the ship, and steering it toward disaster. How to imagine such a lever, platform, and fulcrum? History seems to indicate that whenever people are ready to pose new questions, the answers are already present -- if only as possibilities for science fiction.


PAPI: In the case of Starship Earth, the three elements are already on board, ready to be configured into a new power strong enough to halt the onrush of planetary self-destruction and release the human energy to build a new society. These elements are: the social lever, the electronic platform, and the philosophical fulcrum.

The lever of planetary solidarity
external image clip_image002.jpgexternal image clip_image005.png
The planetary platform of the web
The fulcrum of planetary consciousness



PAPI: The Social Lever is the vast untapped power of planetary solidarity. Once the billions of passengers and crewmembers aboard Spaceship Earth unite and act together, no force can stop them. Divided, they are pitiful and weak. United, their power is irresistible. (NB Each of the following scenes could be depicted in split panels) Ever since the revolt of Spartacus and the Roman slaves, the poor, the downtrodden, the exploited have shown their power to unite and use their numbers to win concessions from their wealthy, powerful oppressors -- even to overthrow them. This power of the people united has been demonstrated down through the ages -- from the vast peasant uprisings in Feudal times to the mass revolutions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It follows that only by joining together can the passengers and crew of Spaceship Earth -- locked below decks in separate compartments and divided by language and religion -- ever hope to take over the bridge from the well-guarded, power-drunk, money-crazed officers?


PAPI: The Philosophical Fulcrum is Planetary Consciousness, the child of the 20th Century, when thanks to capitalism’s global wars, the majority of humanity first learned that the earth is round and inhabited many different peoples. (Image: mostly naked indigines staring and laughing at GI’s in a jeep) At the same time, thanks to Hiroshima, came the awareness that civilizations as well as species are mortal (Image). Today rapidly increasing climate chaos makes it obvious that time is short, that the destruction of nature, our common home, must cease. Planetary Consciousness means placing the survival of Starship Earth and its inhabitants first. People over profits. Life over Death. Love over Violence. It is common spiritual and practical basis which permits the Billions to unite in resisting the will of the Billionnaires. (What a mural this would make!)


PAPI : The Electronic Platform is the World Wide Web. Its emergent technology is tentacular, infinite in its connections, interactive, and indestructible because its center is everywhere and nowhere. As accessible tomorrow as the telephone is today, the Internet provides a place to stand large enough for billions to interact. The Web is a planetary platform where each can speak for her/himself on equal footing, where billions of passengers and crew-members can connect, unite, empower themselves and take initiatives on a planetary scale -- the only scale on which it makes sense to confront the power-mad officers of predatory global capitalism.

PAPI: The Internet, although beseigned by capitalist media and governments, has since its inception proven itself a powerful new weapon in the hands of rebels, from hackers and open-sourcers to Zapatistas, Liverpool dockers, anti-globalization protesters, global anti-war demonsrators (15 million in 2003), World Social Forums, and most recently by millions of demonstrators during the Arab Spring, indignados and Occupy movements. Mass appropriation of the Internet as a platform for self-organization in an age of increasing Plantary Consciousness could support the emergence of 21st century humanity as a conscious self-actuating subject, hence the emergence of the new society from the shell of the old.

The next scenes are less clear in my mind. Here’s the summary of where I’m going.

PAPI is getting discouraged after years of trying to convince people: the scientists, the publishers, the conservationists, the left, whoever. By now years have passed and the young people we met at PENNY’s birthday party are now grown-up.

PENNY may be an artist like you or a theater person like Jenny. She is quite aware politically, but not a militant, although she occasionally goes to demos. She lives in the here and now, totally involved in her art – which does reflect her social conscience.

HARRY has now become a top flight IT scientist, commuting between NY Paris Rome etc. for a living, staunch public defender of internet freedom, but privately involved in anti-globalization protests and collectives of hackers and such.

KID NERD after ‘wasting his time’ for years playing Dungeons and Dragons with his nerdy friends (OK he can be the one Black kid in his HS group) has made a huge succession out in California as designer of multi-player on-line games, only to be cheated by evil capitalists and lawyers out of his share of the huge fortune when they sold the game he designed that went viral. So he’s back living with his parents and mooning over PENNY. And, boy is he MAD at capitalism!

Some event – another birthday, a protest, a meeting – brings them together and we learn their stories as they catch up with each other. They now turn to PAPI, who tells of his frustration. Let’s say they have all read and admired his book, HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD. Each comes up with an idea, which they will now put in practice.

PENNY will turn PAPI’s ideas into a Graphic Novel.

KID NERD will design a revolutionary one-line game based on the novel

HARRY will spread the word among hackers. PAPI lectures them on his Archimedes Hypothesis and concludes as follows:

PAPI: For this mass emergence to realize itself, connectivity must be maximized. IT workers can play a crucial vanguard role in this revolutionary process. First by defending tooth and nail the freedom of the Internet, which the capitalists and their minions (is there a better word ?) are doing their best to monopolize and police. Second, and here I appeal to today’s group, by imagining and constructing the kind of global electronic platfrom that will best promote and facilitate the kind of international exchanges, cooperation and organizing initiatives that could, in some future world crisis, serve as catalysts for a planetary uprising to go viral, swarming the centers of power, occuping the means of production ; a platform that could also serve as the embryonic infrstructure for a future planetary federation of self-managed regional economies.

A significant number IT workers and innovators have been from the beginning embued with the communist spirit expressed in open sourcing, hacking, information sharing and ‘Anonymous’ type activity. They stand at the vanguard of a new (often over-exploited) international proletariat brought into being by this new technology, which remains a contested terrain however much appropriated by capitalism. As they become socially conscious, some will choose to devote their energies to the essential task of revolutionary organizers : creating connectivity among the masses.

As a result of PAPI’s appeal and with the enthusiastic leadership of HARRY, various IT workers in various locations begin to design a global network and construct a kind of Google-map of the globe including the location of the planet’s resources, the location and ownership of various industries around the world, and most importantly of sites of struggle. This is a great feat of collective creation. This infrastructure is designed to facilitate, for example, direct communication among workers employed or sub-contracted by a single multi-national like Daewoo or Apple in sites around the globe. It also gives them access to information about their corporate opponants. And about potential allies in the Human Rights or other movements. (This is an actual project the real-life Harry and I are working on, and he has access to a big grant).

Meanwhile, KID NERD is designing the game ‘BILLIONS versus BILLIONAIRES’
We cut to the Rules of the Game, which should be easy to illustrate. From then on, it’s a straightforward adaptation of my WIKI story about a game that goes viral and the Revolution that develops with the help of the Fishies.

Except now we can work the two strands together. The Game-Globe of BvB is based on HARRY’s Google-globe. Later, perhaps the World Police will shut down or attack the workers’ Google-GLOBE, but the day will be saved by the BvB project, which is parallel to it. Or maybe BvB can serve as a cover for the persecuted militants among the workers in struggle.

The RULES are the essence: a rapid lesson in Marxism in the guise of a game. I have observed that teen of apparently minimal IQ routinely learn complicated games that phase me utterly. Where we need to innovate is that each of the Opponants in the game, the capitalists, their lawyers and so on must be symbolized by a character, in fact a monster. Please go to your local game store and for 10$ buy a pack of MAGIC THE GATHERING cards and model yourself on the monsters therin depicted. Also how each card shows the moves the monster can make as well as his vulnerabilities. If you like the idea, buy a few more decks (they’re all different) and play the game with some of your friends or kids you know.

A left-wing take-off on this monster-card formula would be a great way to present our lesson in Marxism. And if we succeed, we might actually produce such a game, print up the cards, even sell them! Spin-offs or prequels to the novel.

I’m signing off here for today. This should give you lots of ideas and a place to start thinking of panels and such. I’m all excited by your collaboration, and it has already inspired me to improve my concept vastly.

Very best, Richard


Old version of Collective Creation
Once I dreamed that some individuals decided to accept the challenge to dream up Roads to Ecotopia for our time. The dreamers in my dreams were seeking to invent likely scenarios whereby human inhabitants of a dying planet could establish societies capable of saving the world before it was too late. They created a website to attract other dreamers. They lived on different continents and belonged to different cultures, but the Web permitted them to collaborate at a distance, holding discussions and eventually writing collaborative texts on a Wiki like this one.

Among the people who got together in order to make these visions of possible Roads to Ecotopia more accessible and more popular were manga artists, sci-fi writers, visionaries, revolutionaries, computer freaks, creators of games. In my dream, their collective creations were so successful that they went viral, and visions of a possible Better World and of Roads leading to it inspired a whole generation of gamer and nerds who joined with social movements already fighting capitalism and helped spark a planetary General Strike Revolutionary Emergence in time to save the planet.

Here are some of the ideas they dreamed up.

2. A Trip to Ecotopia and The Dream of Ecotopias
First I dreamed they organized a contest to find the most realistic Roads to possible future Utopias -- or rather Ecotopias. (No Gods or Extra-terrestial forces allowed.) There were artists, writers, revolutionaries, computer specialists, radical visionaries of every stripe. Every thinker had his/her vision or theory s/he wanted to illustrate. People who practiced communal living, cooperative production, non-commercial exchange, fair trading, organic farming, co-housing came up with models of new ways of living. My dreamed-up dreamers gave full rein to their historical imaginations in order to trace likely future scenarios illustrating political truths that they believed or wanted to believe.
Please click on the 'Trip to Ecotopia' page on this Wiki to read, modify and continue a Utopian tale.

3.
These Marxists, anarchists, scientists, visionaries, historians and artists pooled their imaginations and created a composite picture of the kinds of future societies (plural) based on justice and ecological principles that might emerge if the Billions managed to unite, take over from the Billionaires and tried to repair the Planet and set the social world to rights. Like Wm Morris' News from Nowhere it uses the device of a Time Traveler (teenaged Penny Wonderful for example) who wakes up in the Year 2100. She wanders around this Brave New Wold, has adventures, asks a lot of questions and meets interesting people like David Schwartzperson III who explain to her things like how Solar provides all the energy needed for human needs. So we are asking our radical friends who are specialists in, say, ecology, cooperatives, education to imagine they are living in 2100 and to let 'Penny' interview them on this Wiki.
You can read and modify a first draft of 'A Dream of Ecotopias' right now on this WIKI!

4. The Dream of Revolutionary Emergence
In charting possible Roads to Ecotopia, Marxists, anarchists, ecologists, radicals of all kinds had displayed their stock of occult knowledge, quoting long-forgotten lessons from movement history, analyzing the experiences communes drowned in blood, revolutions gone astray, victorious defeats, defeats in victory as well as the promise of voluntary communities, cooperatives, radical unions, peasant leagues, workers' councils, mass assemblies, general strikes, uprisings, international solidarity movements.

They put their ideas together on a Wiki and came up with a composite "Dream of Revolutionary Emergence" for the 21st century. It was based on the old revolutionary dream of international solidarity, brought up to date in our age of multi-national corporations, capitalist globalization and the Internet, which for the first time makes it possible for the common people of all countries to communicate in real time, organize world-wide resistance, and eventually to take over from the capitalists and run the world democratically.
You can join them in elaborating this Dream of Revolutionary Emergence on this Wiki

The “Novel Where You are the Hero”
One idea for popularizing this vision was a “novel-where-you-are-the-hero,” a genre of juvenile literature where the reader imagines her/himself a detective, an explorer or a spy and has various adventures.
These little illustrated stories were an amusing and instructive way of presenting the idea that another world is possible.

Possible titles for comic-book/text version: 'The Invisible International,' 'Mutiny on Spaceship Earth' or '2100 or Bust!'

The Card Game
Some fans of Roads to Ecotopia decided to popularize the vision through a game called Billions & Billionaires or B&B for short. Led by the indomitable Maestro known to the world as MrRankin, his indefatigable female companion and veteran time-traveler Penny Wonderful and her aged Parent, the retired wizard, they ventured into The Higher Arcania. Their quest was to adapt the popular Gothic warfare card game Magic: the Gathering to the Postmodern horrors of today's world of Drone attacks on Pakistani families and Financial attacks on the Greek economy. In this new version, instead of launching ferocious Griffins and other horrific Gothic Creatures at their opponents, players with the necessary Capital (the new Land) cards can now choose to launch Lawyers, Mercenaries,

Please join them on the Higher Aracania page on this Wiki.

Fourth Night: the Computer Game
A week later I dreamed that the members of the team behind the cardgame and “the-novel-where-you-are-the-hero,” along with some others, decided to design an elaborate computer game on the same theme. To make their scenarios as realistic as possible, they tried acting out the roles of the various antagonists : some had fun playing the part of the capitalists while others played the revolutionaries, then they switched roles. They tried to make the capitalists as clever as possible to put their scenarios to the test. Like players in a role-game. They set up a Gamesters’ Forum and set about creating something more dynamic, more realistic, more interactive and more nuanced than the novel. Advances in computer science opened new possibilities. A game with a multiplicity of “heroes” and “villains,” with the whole globe as playing field and real history as a frame.

The developers were inspired by an old educational board game on the same theme. It was called Class Struggle and it had been published with some success back in the ‘Seventies by the brilliant American Marxist, Bertell Ollman. The Rules and the Chance cards written by Ollman had a droll and ironic didacticism. Ollman explained that the “real players” in Class Struggle were not individuals but classes: American Workers and Capitalists. The cover of the box showed Rockefeller and Marx arm wrestling. Ollman had added other players: the “Minor Classes” like Students, Peasants, Small Businessmen, Professionals. But the rules said that only one of the “Major Classes” -- Workers or Capitalists -- could actually win. The Minor Classes had the right to make alliances with one or another of the “Major Classes,” hoping to be on the winning side during the Confrontations.

Each of the players was assigned a game piece—the top hat of the capitalist, the hammer of the worker, the tractor of the peasant, the briefcase of the professionals. The pieces advanced around a game board with a throw of the dice, as in “Monopoly.” Depending on the square where they landed, they received Credits or Debits. They could also draw from “Chance,” make and unmake alliances and enter into Confrontations with other classes. These took the form of Factory Struggles, Elections (2), General Strikes (2), and a Revolution. Classes gained (or lost) Credits with each roll of the die. In Confrontations, each Major Class could combine his own Credits with those of its allies of the moment. The Major Class with the highest net balance of Credits in his account was the winner. Class Struggle was much funnier than Monopoly and much more instructive.

The 21st century developers realized that modern computer-games allowed for much more dynamism, many more nuances and complications. There was less luck of the dice and more strategy in the movement of the pieces. In place of the map of the United States, there was a globe of the world, which opened the game up to international rivalries and alliances between rival capitalists as well as North-South relations. It also distinguished between the interests of the different branches of Capital. The Workers were no longer united into a single player, but divided by trade, nationality, religion, language and “race.”

The old Class Struggle board game had one square labelled Atomic War. If Capitalists landed there, that ended the Game. The new computerized game introduced many other variable including climate disasters which could break out at any moment and which dramatized to potential gamers the situation of kids born in the 21st century. The time of the game became the time remaining to a planet careening towards social and ecological disaster. The only way to win was to defeat capitalism. They began with Rosa Luxembourg’s premise that “All revolutions are doomed to defeat except the last.” So most of the time, the Billionaires were winning the game while the abuse of Mother Earth got worse and worse until an atomic war or climate catastrophe ended the game,

The game designers adopted as Logo the image of little fish uniting in order to eat the big one. This image had long been used by anarchists and syndicalists. It eerily recalls an even more ancient image engraved on walls by the early communistic Christian communities persecuted under the Roman Empire. These fish recalled the legend of Jesus miraculously multiplying the bread and fishes to feed the multitude: a parable designed to teach people that when they share among themselves, there’s always enough for everybody.

You can read and modify a draft of 'The Rules of the Game' page on this Wiki.

I dreamed that these popularizations became more widely disseminated via DVD’s, CDRoms, and Internet sites, with more choices and richer graphics. These popular media had a certain success, were translated into different languages, and were even sold in pirated editions made in Asia (which their anti-capitalist “owners” found rather amusing). They came out at the very moment when




















Rules of the Game
Utopia 2100”

Programming theVirtual Globe - Principal Opponents - Strengths of the Billionaires - Weaknesses of the Billionaires - Weaknesses of the Billions – Strengths of the Billions - Endgame


The Name of the Game is “Twenty-One Hundred.”

The Game is played on a virtual planet, the Game-Globe.

The time of the Game represents the Twenty First Century.

To win the Game, players must reach the year 2100.







Third Dream: Utopias
The Internet During Reconstruction – Natural Order Re-established – From Improvisation to Planning-Factories -- Development vs Simplicity -– Transportation –- Markets –- The Mystery of Commodities Explained – Monopolies -–Transformation of Work – Education – Cities –The Planetary Festival-- Envoi


The following night I dreamed of Utopias. Plural. For in the fantastic world proposed by my imagination, there were as many different ways of organizing work and daily life as there were cultural traditions, political doctrines and even temperaments. People who were ill at ease in one type of agricultural or urban community or society had only to go work and live in another, more to their own taste, and many people changed place often, simply out of a love of adventure and to see the world.

But I’m getting ahead of my story.



Internet During Reconstruction


The survivors of the wars and revolutions of the 21st Century had inherited a scarred and battered earth. Ironically, thanks to the technology inherited from capitalist barbarism, reconstruction was less difficult than had been feared. The dismantling of the armaments industry freed immense industrial resources that could now be put to the service of the people and the planet. As in the ancient prophecies, they “beat their swords into plowshares.” The enormous bulldozers that had once served to demolish Palestinian houses now served to make water available to the Palestinians. Factories for war planes were being transformed into factories for agro-economic transport. Near Hartford, Connecticut (USA) I visited a former tank factory which was now producing tractors.

I asked my hosts how theses transformations had come about. They described to me how at the end of the global general strike, the strikers occupying factories, mines and refineries had taken stock and begun little by little to restart production of goods and materials needed for immediate consumption and to keep other industries supplied. The practice of making decisions democratically acquired during the strike now carried over into an improvised cooperative self-management by assemblies and workers’ councils. Internet links enabled these cooperatives to advertise for the materials they needed and trade them for finished goods they produced. Thanks to this E-Bay system, goods were exchanged through an intricate system of barter.


I asked my hosts how these forms of economic self government operated. They had evolved, I was told, quite naturally out of the various types of organisation that had been thrown up to meet the needs of the strikers during the struggle. The common principles among them were these. Leaders were elected and subject to recall by their constituents. Terms of office were kept short to prevent the creation of a professional political class and to keep representatives in touch with their base. Officials were paid normal workers’ wages, and members of a collective more or less rotated in office. There was no firewall between the executive and legislative functions of self-government. Those who voted measures were also responsible for carrying them out. It occurred to me that the Utopians had revived the ancient Greek ideal of participatory democracy – but no longer restricted to free native-born males.



The Natural Order Re-Established

My hosts also took me out into the countryside. I understood that little by little the natural order was re-establishing itself on earth. In the agricultural countries of the South, the peasants had taken back the good lands expropriated by invaders and used to cultivate luxury products for export to rich countries. It was explained to me that these commodities —coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, bananas, spices – had come from the work of impoverished natives reduced to semi-slavery. Peasants who fed themselves on subsistence agriculture had been pushed back to the least productive land. Their children had ended up in horrible favelas, bidonvilles, slums and urban projects where they lived on garbage. In the name of “free markets,” rich monopolies had ruined peasant markets by flooding them with produce at the lowest prices. That unfair competition was subsidized by the democratic governments that offered gross subsidies to big agro-business enterprises.

In Africa, I was shown a museum devoted to the chocolate children. Pathetic huts, child drawing, photographs and recorded interviews bore witness to a common early 21st Century practice. It was a memorial of the sufferings of parents too poor to feed their own children who ended up selling them to manpower merchants and never seeing them again. These merchants sold them to cocoa cultivators who starved while making them work endless hours picking cocoa to fulfull contracts with the multinationals. Companies like Nestlé resold these chocolates to children in industrial countries at prices twenty to a hundred times the cost of production. Interviews revealed that none of these children had ever seen, much less tasted a chocolate bar.

During the planetary revolution, these poor peasants of Africa, Latin America, and Asia organized and struggled to take back their traditional lands. Their first goal was to become self-sufficient nutritionally by planting traditional subsistence crops. At the same time on part of the land, they continued to farm the sugar, cocoa, coffee, spices and other commodities that city workers like to eat, to use for trade. It was explained to me that regular trade was re-established spontaneously at the very beginning of the reconstruction period. Sailors and aircrew who brought emergency relief and the technical aid for things like irrigation and communication, didn’t return home with their planes and boats empty. They filled them with good things for workers of the world’s metropoles.

Railroaders, truckers, sailors and aviation crews had played a primordial role by bringing aid. After medication and food came tools with teams of aid-workers and technicians working in cooperation with local assemblies. They helped the peasants dig wells, construct cisterns and irrigate. They proposed iron ploughs to farmers still laboring the soil with wood. They helped push back the hunger, thirst, and diarrhoea that had for so long tortured the Billions in the south of the planet.

Thus the natural rapport between city and country was re-established almost spontaneously in outbursts of solidarity, mutual help and cooperation. For the first time in five imperialist centuries, nobody was dying of hunger either in the rich fields of the earth or in the slums of great opulent cities.



From Improvisation to ‘Planning Factories’

Once peace was re-established on the planet, the Internet revealed itself as a tool just as useful now as during the period of revolution. The first order of the day was to make a rapid assessment of the state of the planet and its population so as to address the most urgent needs, the first wounds to treat.The Net facilitated first the gathering of information and then the matching up of needs and resources around the planet.

Committees of specialists formed in every country to exchange data on agriculture, ecology, migration, refugees, famine, drought. Global data bases were established. Statistics brought together in the data bases permitted specialists working with the assemblies to simplify choices by permitting discussion of alternatives with their advantages and disadvantages. All this system, if it was a system, was improvised in haste. There was a planet to heal, with its human, animal and vegetable inhabitants. Half the people were thirsty and lacked water for hygiene and agriculture.

As reconstruction progressed, this system was refined and elaborated. Research Centers were created on the regional, national and planetary levels to bring together all the economic data transmitted by collectives of producers and consumers and by the local assemblies. These centers also had the task of classifying and analyzing this data, then transmitting the results to the Assemblies in a form readily accessible to ordinary workers. The researchers were also responsible for producing a range of alternative plans in every domain: different plans each with forecasts about the costs in human effort, the time it would take to complete, its environmental impact and the benefits it would bring to individuals and collectivities. These ‘Plan Factories’[[#sdfootnote1sym|1]] as the centers were commonly called, provided the kind of information about alternatives which made possible truly democratic and popular debates all on essential questions of social and economic life.

Later on, the Internet also permitted great planetary referendums on certain fundamental questions: ecology, health, human rights. The choices proposed by the ‘plan factories’ were clear and comprehensible to every voter. There were competing global plans for limiting the extraction and use of fuels emitting CO2 and other gases dangerous to the ozone and the atmosphere. There were proposals for the creation and coordination of sources of alternative energy. There were also plans for saving plants, animals, seas.




Development vs Simplicity

As various projects were discussed in neighborhood assemblies and collectives, the debates generally turned around the choice between plans considered “productivist” and more conservative plans that put the emphasis on the reduction of work time and minimal environmental impact. Some Utopians argued in favor of a greater immediate effort to construct infrastructures that would make life easier in the future. Others opted for a slower rate of accumulation, a simpler life, the least impact on nature, the liberty to dispose of their own time.

Groups of citizens with projects to propose could also ask the ‘plan factories’ to prepare estimates and technically feasible plans. By this process, each consumer, each worker, each local community could clearly see the choices that suited them best. In practice, the great diversity of societies simplified things. Certain regions opted for greater productivity, others for greater simplicity. As long as the basic needs of the environment and the rights of neighbors were respected, there was no problem. The dissatisfied always had the option joining other communities better suited to their ideals and their lifestyles.

Assemblies tried to come to conclusions by consensus, but if a consensus could not be reached, a majority decision might be called for. Even then, if the minority were large and resolute, the decision might be put off or imposed for a limited period only. In any case, all decisions were periodically reviewed. If a plan caused negative or unforeseen results, it could be changed or even withdrawn.

Transportation


Free transportation had already been put into place in the period of the planetary revolution, and that had happened in the most spontaneous manner. After a series of official strikes, the transport workers had understood that they would only seriously inconvenience other workers by depriving them of trains, buses, subways and airlines. On the other hand, management, government and media were warning the public against strikers who “thought only of themselves.”

So, from general meeting to general meeting, and to the scandal of the unions, the word went out: “Strike on the sale of transport tickets!” By blocking the ticket windows while they were reestablishing service, the workers were depriving the bosses of revenue and attracting the sympathy of travellers. That worked so well that after the revolution, tickets had become so rare that children were collecting and trading these relics of pre-history.

In the domain of interurban transport, trains were more and more replacing automobiles, with gas and diesel fuel now considered expensive, dangerous and pollutant. International travel and trade was conducted via great sailing vessels with computerised navigational and sail-setting systems capable of carrying many passengers and great quantities of materials at speeds up to 25 knots with zero consuption of fuel. It was every boy and girl’s dream to work out on the ocean as a sailor on these swift, silent strong, ships (also well-known for partying).

In countries in the South, light planes were linking communities far from highways and connecting them to villages where you could find markets, doctors, schools. In the metropoles, trains were constructed on the surface of highways. Traffic lanes were left for traffic of bus, truck, taxi, and cars for rent and for the handicapped (most of them gas-electric).

Each exit had its train station, where local bus and taxis left and arrived. Each station had its café, newspaper stand and free stand for bicycles and some vans and cars (for a price). Around the stations, there were outdoor markets where travellers could get bread, fruit, vegetables and dozens of
other products before going home.



Markets


The old commercial centers, very accessible by the network of public transport, were transformed into bazaars and surrounded by public park in the place of the old parking lots. A great variety of local and regional businesses were installed in the centers in the place of all those faceless and lifeless stores from multinational chains like MacDonalds, Etam, Jennifer, Zara, Calvin Klein, and Benneton. Artisans could be seen there chatting with their friends and potential customers while working at the same time. Cuisine was both regional and multi-ethnic, and not expensive. Two or three times a week, the old parking lots were transformed into peasant markets where producers sold produce directly from their farms and gardens.

Sundays, there were the flea markets, where people resold their clothes, their books, their furniture when they wanted to change it. Theaters, circuses and traveling shows set up their tents there. And as in urban centers, you could see on the screens films from all over the world. I saw these stations and centers bubbling over with life and conviviality. Vendors, like customers, were generally in good spirits and rarely in a hurry.

On national and global levels, the Internet facilitated wholesale trade in oil, minerals, metals, production tools. At any moment, by going online, you could locate offers and searches, in cotton, sugar, steel, cocoa, of a certain quality and quantity. Each type of production had its site, and you could see exchanges being made in real time. Fascinated, I watched the scene while a chocolate cooperative in Berne in search of 1000 kilos of a certain type of cocoa got in touch with several producer co-ops in Africa, and ended up reaching an accord with peasants in Djambala in the Congo.

While I was looking, a thousand other deals of the kind were in the course of being negotiated, apparently to the mutual satisfaction of all. To save on freight, you generally chose producers closest geographically, but sometimes trade took place across oceans and mountains. Astonished, I asked my hosts: “Comrades, I have always fought against Globalization, and I’ve always believed that the market was a deadly instrument of capitalism that transformed all into merchandise!”

They answered that as there was no more capitalism, there was no more problem. But seeing me at the same time perplexed and sceptical, my friends took me to the Institute of Prehistory, where I found working precisely the scholar who could answer me in the most rigorous terms.

If these explanations don’t interest you, skip up to Monopolies.

The Mystery of Commodities Explained

It was a little laughing lady around 50 who answered me good humoredly:

“Like many militants of your generation, you confuse two things: The natural market, on the one hand, a social institution going back to the beginnings of human culture, and on the other, this dangerous animal that invades society with capitalism, this monster hybrid half-thing and half- abstraction, this fetish of capitalism, merchandise!

”Historically”, she explained, “markets were friendly places where people got together to trade produce while at the same time chatting, exchanging news and ideas, weaving relationships clan to clan, village to country, people to people . . .

“I understand. I’ve just been told that an herbs market had its origin around the year 1000 in the city of Montpellier in the present south of France. Arab and Jewish doctors coming here from Spain found Italians and Bulgarians who brought herbs from India. From the herbs market was born the city, its Faculty of Medicine, and the pharmacy industry has always been very strong in the region. On reflection, you’d have to say the market is the source of civilization. . .”

One of the sources,” my gracious interlocutor answered indulgently.

“ . . . and they sold here merchandise !” I said maliciously.
“Indeed,” smiled the scholar. “You could call merchandise anything natural or manufactured as long as it is traded. The peasant from Mali who happens to feed her family and take to the village market her surplus of yams expects to go back home with things that she doesn’t know how to make herself: a copper pot, a comb. . .”

“I think I understand: those yams of the Malienne are only the, so to speak, occasional merchandise, therefore innocent. But whence come your merchandise-fetishes that are so mysterious and dangerous?”

“They come, curiously enough, not from the market but from the global production system. In order that ALL useful or desirable objects become systematically merchandise, it’s necessary that all over the world, businesses produce large quantities of uniform objects with the goal of selling them for profit on an indetermined market. You can call that the abstract market—in opposition to the natural market of society—for sellers and buyers never meet. Also because the value of the merchandise there depends on the cost of their production, rather than their beauty, their utility or the desire they provoke.

“And just so, in the contact of this abstract world market, all human products become abstract objects embodying a certain amount of market value, this being independent of their utility and desirability. More curious still, contrary to the natural market where humans weave their social relationships, these are goods that maintain “social” relationships as soon as they enter the abstract world market!”

“But what exactly would they have to say to each other, these sacred abstract monsters?”

“Their prices!”

“Indeed, if the goods could speak, they would establish their mutual relationships by comparing their prices. ‘I am worth 56 Euros!’ a chic pullover would say with a proud look. ‘And me, 112 Euros!’ a men’s suit would answer drily. ‘You’d need two of you to buy me, so shit on you.’

“There are the only conversations that you would hear in the abstract market, but they are so numerous that they’d end up silencing the voice of humans, for example that of Lo, the young worker of Shanghai who to feed her child works twelve hours a day, seven days a week, for the subcontractor of a big international brand. Indeed, Lo has no human relationship with Laure, the Parisian secretary who wants the pullover that the young Chinese woman knitted and for which she received 13 cents Euro. Unfortunately, at 56 pounds, the labor of Lo is too expensive for the little Parisienne.

“On the other hand, those conversations stupidly breaking out between merchandise—“I’m worth/You’re worth”—are so intrusive that we have become as well informed about their “social” relationships as about those of our friends and our favorite celebrities. To such an extent that on TV there were consumer games where you won prizes for correctly estimating the price of different goods.”

“I know,” I said embarrassedly. “And even when merchandise keeps quiet behind a window we hear it very clearly. For example, our friend the men’s suit that murmurs, “You know very well that I’m worth two times this vain pullover.” I admit that those animals are vastly intelligent, but what is the origin of their market value? I’d say myself that it’s the amount of human labor that each product has cost. For example, it would have required twice as much time for tailors to sew the men’s suit than it would for Lo to knit the pullover, right?”

“Not completely,” answered the historian, mischievously. “Imagine that the knitter, out of laziness or lack of experience, works two times more slowly than normal. She would put in twice as much labor, but would her pullover be twice expensive?”

“Obviously not,” I admitted, perplexed.

“And if you gave her a machine that permitted her to knit ten pullovers in the time it takes to do one by hand, would she be ten times richer?”

“No, again. So if it isn’t the human labor expended to make the pullover that gives it its value, what is it? The desire of the buyer?

“Of course not, since Laure the secretary found it too expensive!” laughed my charming researcher.

“I give up, explain it to me,” I begged, really distressed now.

“But you knew it already!” smiled the philosophe, indulgently. “It’s only that useful human labor is not, as we’ve seen, quantifiable. The activity of a knitter gives us, after all, only a sweater that’s more or less warm and more or less beautiful. You need abstract labor to create the abstract (quantifiable) value of merchandise. And in order to establish its potential price you have to place it in relationship to other merchandise in the same category that could have been manufactured by machine, and that will embody more or less necessary social labor.

All the same, you wouldn’t be wrong in proposing that the quality of human labor that a product has cost were the origin of its value. But, as we’ve seen, it’s not the quality of concrete labor (an example being the slow knitter) that determines the value of product, but the average quantity necessary to make such a product in competition with others of the same variety on the world market. Obviously, in order to establish the integral value of merchandise, for example the men’s suit, you’d have to add the necessary labor of the peasants who grew the cotton, the labor of the weavers who transformed it into cloth, the labor of the tailors and transporters.

“Let me sum up, Dear Professor: On this abstract market that includes all the unknown producers and buyers of the world where the hand knitters compete with the machine knitters, it’s the time required for the minimum necessary labor that determines the market value of the sweater. . . “

“Yes, and it’s not the quantity of real concrete human labor that determines the abstract value of merchandise. . .”

“. . . It’s the abstract labor!”
“I knew you knew!”

“On the other hand, I’ve never seen an abstract laborer.”

“Rascal! You know very well that this paradox is at the heart of the problem. If a human manufactures something, for example the Malienne her yams, it’s by a concrete labor of the cultivator that it reaches a useful value, as it happens here, edible. But Lo the Chinese girl doesn’t sell the surplus of her harvest, she sells an abstraction, her labor power calculated at X yen per hour for Y hours. And as her time is no longer her own, the product of her concrete labor of knitter is therefore not hers. Fruit of alienated labor, the sweaters of Lo are alienated from her by her boss, Li, Communist Party member, who makes her work as fast as possible in order to have sweaters to sell and maximize his profit by lowering the production costs below the global average. However free, Lo lives her productive life as the slave of Li, except that owners of slaves—just like owners of horses—look after the health and nourishment of their property. On the other hand when Lo, malnourished and weakened by her long work hours, can’t knit fast enough, her boss replaces her with a younger and fresher girl from the country. There you have the circumstances of alienated labor (abstract labor) embodied in properly so-called capitalist merchandise. . .”

“Good. I agree. It’s therefore not the market, but the alienated labor that gives birth to that capitalist merchandise become universal fetish. But let’s admit that this dialectic was not very well understood in the period of globalization. Each time they talk to us about markets, we know they’re going to have a rough time of it, that they’re going to lose the slim fringe benefits that they have, that life becomes less human, that they’re going to take from us even the air and the water to make merchandise out of them.”


Monopolies


“In the period you speak about, the word “markets” was hiding in reality the effective monopoly of several hundred big multinationals. These groups were so powerful that the annual revenues of just one of them, General Motors, surpassed the GDP of all the Scandinavian countries put together. Thanks to international organizations and treaties (IMF, World Bank, NAFTA) these powerful multinationals had been able to dominate every domain of world economy, agriculture and media. In the name of a sham “liberalism,” these big companies were able to manipulate the market so that exporters of raw materials in the South sold their sugar, coffee and petroleum at low prices. On the other hand, the same multinationals resold these products at high prices to workers in the North, whom advertising pushed into unhealthy consumption.

Thus the big companies destroyed or deformed traditional markets by monopolizing trade and by manipulating prices to their own advantage. Instead of facilitating trade, the “markets” pushed by media and economists in the service of monopolies effectively prevented producers from getting together, and organizing trade.

Even in the rich countries in the North, peasants, fishermen, small manufacturers never managed to hold their own against monopolies subsidized by the state. As governments, media and supermarkets imposed uniform consumption, small business went downhill, bankruptcy became an epidemic and young people who dreamed of creating their own businesses found themselves unemployed debtors.

At the same time, during the revolution and after the fall in the value of money, effectively free markets were being organized almost everywhere in the world. First out of necessity. Under the strain, barter and LE DON GRATUIT turned out to be the sole recourse permitted to groups and individuals in order to meet their needs. Moreover, the attempts at a rational, political control of markets proposed by the Assemblies at the beginning quickly revealed themselves to be inefficient. These restricitons engendered only smuggling, repression, bureaucracy and penury. Remembered now were those command economies in Stalinist Russia, where after 70 years of “socialst construction,” people waited in line for hours for scarce, poor-quality products.

But, into villages and on to town squares people were taking directly what there was to offer. So, at a distance, with the help of the Internet, products found themselves displayed on the planetary public square. From these improvisations, increasingly regular and specialized were being formed around certain sites. People remembered the Local Systems of Trade (LST). People remembered anarchist traditions of the hackers at the beginning of the Internet who defied commercial business on the Web in putting free of charge, at the disposal of internauts, the possibility of trading CDs and software as freeware.

Users of these sites/markets were refining rules of conduct to assure the openness and integrity of trade and minimize fraud. Thus, as reconstruction went on, vast and complicated trade networks were being confidently woven all around the world.

So the merchandise-fetish was disappearing. People were no longer accepting possession as the sole manner of appropriating others; they were losing the habit of putting a price on all things and all human activity. In place of complicated commercial law established by capitalism to keep business monopoly in the hands of the rich, in place of the abstract labor market that transformed men into alienated sellers of work and passive consumers, utopians were putting up a single law, clear and simple:

Man is not merchandise. The sale of human labor for the profit of others is forbidden.”



The Transformation of Work

Everyone was working, but less and less. Many senseless jobs were abolished. There were no more CEOS, no more police, no more attorneys, no more watchmen, no more bankers, no more bank robbers and bank employees, no more cashiers, no more politicians, no more supervisors, no more teachers, no more foremen, no more blackmailers, no more head waiters, no more bureaucrats, no more plutocrats, no more mafia, no more military, no more jailers, no more exchange agents, no more swindlers.

To all these and to the victims of physically exhausting jobs, was offered the choice of rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty and doing their part in socially useful work. For most it was a pleasure and a liberation to return to the productive community. At any rate, if you did not work, you did not eat. But with almost twice the number of effective workers, the necessary man-hours diminished. The normal working week was reduced from 40 to 20 hours.

After the first reconstruction, the point was rapidly reached where nothing was lacking. It was understood that the problem of global capitalism had been overproduction, for example of the wheat with which rich countries flooded poor countries so that false competition produced famine. Thus the overproduction of cars, whose surplus incited firms to forever seek new markets by flooding the media with sexy advertising, having new highways built, sabotaging public transport, forcing themselves into countries in the south, and polluting the atmosphere. Clearly the number of cars already in existence largely sufficed, as long as they were maintained and repaired. Certain auto factories were converted to the production of tramways, while many of their former workers opened repair shops.

These conversions were organized most often by the factory committees which, after having occupied their work places during the big strike, took over management, working with local assemblies of communities where these industries were installed and where the employees and their families lived. Installations judged too polluting, or too dangerous for workers, were closed. Others were cleaned up. There were no more bosses. Cooperatives and work collectives under self-management organized production in ways appropriate to each sector. These management collectives aligned themselves with other self-directed collectives that were both producers and consumers. A wool collective, for example, with a collection of weavers, and so on. Here was work for all. Each person worked at the trade that pleased him or her and with the team that felt right. And when anyone wanted to change trade or location, they were welcome elsewhere.

During the first period of the Utopias, workers in general got from the community what they brought in through their work. (Communities looked after children, of course, the old and the sick.) But little by little, with abundance, that old idea was put into practice: “To each according to his needs, from each according to his/her abilities.” It was working very well. For each practicing disciple of Laforguee’s The Right to Be Lazy there were others so passionate about science, music, agriculture or travel for whom life would be unthinkable without work.

Less and less was being produced, but the little that was being made was more beautiful, durable and useful. Work was becoming a pleasure, production an art. In the autumn, citizens and intellectuals went off joyously to the country to get back together again with the earth by helping in the harvest. Ancient festivals took on new life.

Many people opted to live close to nature while remaining in contact with global culture. Troupes of artists of each culture were crisscrossing the planet, and everywhere you could connect with libraries and concert halls by the Web. Moreover, associations of athletes, musicians, amateurs of wine or postage stamps were flourishing in each locality and undertaking visits and trades. Culture was no longer a spectacle but real life.




Education

Juvenile prisons were abolished, those factories for molding docile employees, passive consumers and ignorant citizens, those stupidity factories that capitalism called “schools.” Children were now free to play and pursue their education to their own liking, according to their age, satisfying their curiosity. Communities put at their disposal all they needed to teach themselves, and adults offered them workshops in math, science, history, music.

Children were also free to participate in the work of the fields, the factories, laboratories. They were proud and happy to accompany their elders part of the day and work alongside them. They were thus learning trades, the social life of adults, and that of the Assemblies. These experiences were giving them a feeling of competence, of participation and of utility, at the same time making what they learned in class more real and understandable.
At the level of advanced studies, the old universities returned to their place as scholarly communities. Scholars and scholar apprentices who frequented them devoted themselves peacefully to discussion and disinterested research. Diplomas, honorable again, simply marked stages in apprenticeship in this universal scholarly society. No more course credits, no more tests, no more competitive examinations, no more rivalry for grades, no more brainwashing. Diplomas no longer opened up bureaucratic careers, no longer brought financial advantage.

At the same time, these centers opened their doors wide to curious spirits of all ages and of all social backgrounds. They radiated their influence out over their regions, with professors who voluntarily offered talks and free workshops in their specialty to localities and associations. The Internet gave long-distance access to libraries and to courses, and specialists spent part of every day responding to software from students and distant colleagues who sent them studies to comment on and questions to clarify.

Beside these formal institutions, artists, dreamers, philosophers, scholars in all fields as well as artisans, engineers, agriculturalists and technicians placed themselves at the disposal of apprentices and disciples who came to learn with a master teacher. Once satisfied, the student could go on to another master or another center. Teaching went on continuously at every moment of the day and in every location. It also went back into active life, for assemblies, production collectives and associations sought out experts to help them resolve problems. The opposition between theory and practice seeming ill-founded now, learning was becoming the common property of everyone.

The Children of the Utopias seemed to be spending the brightest time of their lives, playing, going off into the woods in groups, organizing competitions, parties, enormous projects that seemed mysterious to adults. Casual love affairs came together and then apart. Adolescents and young people were going on trips a lot, working here and there, then continuing their education in more specialized areas that interested them. Nobody felt nailed down to a trade, a job, a locality. Some changed often for the sake of the experience, others contented themselves with familiar settings.




Cities


While the country was repopulating itself with nature-lovers who wished to live and work near the earth, the cities were flourishing as during the great periods of city-states such as Athens, Thebes, Syracuse, Alexandria, Florence, Pisa, Toulouse, Montpellier. People began by banning the cars that under capitalism had invaded public space, terrorizing and asphyxiating citizens who were normally pedestrian. As a stopgap, they turned high-rise office buildings into dwellings and workshops to solve the housing shortage. Streets were emptied of homeless hungry people and filled with pedestrians going about their affairs or strolling for the pleasure of showing themselves off and admiring others. The public square became public once more, and speakers could be found there at all hours.

Many people liked to dress to their advantage and much attractive and original clothing was seen. Conviviality reigned, flirtation flourished. Due to walking, people were no longer fat. Arts and crafts flourished, and the old banks and offices housed a large variety of workshops, theaters, and meeting halls. The old parking lots were transformed into parks, gardens and sports fields. Many museums were opened where connoisseurs of history and local geography, ancient musical instruments, science or model airplanes could share their treasures.

Beside teeming inner cities, neighborhoods took on life again. Each had its own character, ethnic circles and restaurants, neighbor networks, tenant associations, local institutions, sports teams, assemblies, courts to settle disputes. Neighbors lived in security now, among people they knew, whom they identified with. Abolished now were artificial divisions between noisy industrial zones, sterile business neighborhoods emptied at night, and residential bedroom communities. Ended along with that were those long exhausting commutes between work and home that capitalism imposed on workers. You could live now where you worked. You could go home for lunch at noon and even take a nap. You no longer had to be afraid of going out at night, because the streets were occupied at every moment by peaceful citizens busy with their own affairs.




The Planetary Party

I saw arts and culture flourishing everywhere, as well as sports and nature activities. Many individuals, freed from the yoke of famine and long days of boring work, were just having a great time. Others simply rested, content to breathe air that was fresher and fresher. Music was being revived, dances, products and traditional legends. New ones were being invented. Remembered now was the pre-capitalist period, when in Europe the Catholic calendar listed 142 days of holiday a year (including Sundays). It was indeed the planetary party.

All were invited to the party. All could be participants and spectators at the same time. In place of that alienating media spectacle, there was conviviality. People were traveling a lot but slowly, to avoid airplane pollution and to get to know the life of the people they were visiting, often Internet correspondents from other countries who shared the same trades and interests. In the media, diversified and controlled by the creators, all world cultures were disseminated, savored. New forms and combinations, artistic and cultural, were being imagined. The planet was beginning to resemble a real “global village.”

There I awoke, very, very happy with my dream, that I give you here as well as memory permits.


[[#sdfootnote1anc|1]]Foreshadowed by Castoriadis in “On the Content of Socialism,” published in Socialisme ou Barbarie in 1957 and in Enlish as a Solidarity pamphlet.