Better Worlds, Brighter Futures

Ecology, Humanity, Idealism | betterworldsblog.com

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Editorial Perspective

Better Worlds, Brighter Futures strives for revolutionary social and environmental change. We do this through local and global analysis of the present (economics, politics, pop culture, etc); through online education and real-world study/affinity groups; and through organizing collectively to move toward the better worlds and brighter futures we wish to see. We refer to the plural in recognition of the diversity in struggle and vision that move us toward a unified goal of liberation.

Better Worlds, Brighter Futures recognizes the power of the negative in all its senses and across all aspects of contemporary society: in the hyper-individualistic ethos that rejects community and solidarity for greed and egoistic self-interest; in the prevalence of apathy and cynicism among society and in pop culture; in the rise of backward political and religious ideologies promoting domination and inequality; and in systems of economy that deprive people of their dignity and the full value of their labor.

Better Worlds, Brighter Futures believes that the task of the revolutionary today is, in Hegelian fashion, to tarry with this negative. It is not enough to offer critique. We interpret the world in order to change it. Our engagement with the negative is defined through positive affirmation, recognizing that the critique of a thing is inherent in the alternative presented. Through this process we define the superiority of our ideas as against the current status quo. Rather than simply being anti-capitalist we advocate collective and communal methods of production and distribution. Rather than simply being anti-statist we advocate horizontal, directly democratic forms of decision making. Out of these alternatives a vision of the new world arises.

Better Worlds, Brighter Futures’ impetus to revolutionary struggle is fundamentally ethical. The ecological crisis presents both challenge and opportunity. It is a problem that demands immediate solutions not above or separate from those needed to alleviate the exploitation and suffering of the world’s working class. In social ecological terms: the domination of humanity over nature is rooted in the domination of human over human. Therefore the truly ecological society is simultaneously the liberated, egalitarian human community.

Contributors to Better Worlds, Brighter Futures practice a prefigurative politics, embodying the ideals inherent to ethical revolutionary struggle, and filling concepts of solidarity, community, care, and intimacy with meaning. Projects arising out of our lived values serve to improve the lives of the working class under capitalism while creating new models of infrastructure and decision-making necessary for a sustained revolutionary movement. We strive to develop systems of community and solidarity to eliminate scarcity and the unnecessary suffering of all people.

We live in an age of absurdity. In a period of material abundance we suffer from scarcity of imagination. As Slavoj Zizek has observed, it is easier for most to visualize the end of the world than even small reforms to the institutions of capitalism and the state. The power of the negative perpetuates the notion of capitalism as the “end of history,” – meaning that such a system is the pinnacle of human achievement and further development is impossible. Yet alternatives exist.

We are idealists. We are utopians. We unabashedly write recipes for the kitchens of the future. Yet our idealism is tempered by that which can exist concretely. Our utopia is the society that canought, but also must be created, given the extremity of ecological and societal circumstance. We articulate ourselves positively. We are optimistic, but not naïve. We are ethical in thought and action. We are prefigurative in action and relation. We have higher standards for ourselves, each other, and our world. This is Better Worlds, Brighter Futures. 

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About Better Worlds, Brighter Futures

The origins of this blog can be traced to the radicalization of its primary author, beginning around 2004 as a working-class student. In 2006, a political commentary blog, The Nuclear Summer (~2006-2008) was created. Later, an attempt at archiving some works of Peter Kropotkin began. In 2010, the immediate precursor to the Better Worlds, Brighter Futures blog was created, titled Social Ecology Sonora. This was an early attempt to develop a contemporary social ecological praxis for the Sonora Desert ecoregion, and produced a few substantive pieces. In 2012, the short-lived “Ecosocialist Praxis” study group was formed. Writings from all previous blogs have been gathered here and are dated as they were originally published.

From a generations-long working-class background and childhood, the primary author started from a philosophical and ethical framework, passionate to explore questions regarding the ideal society and the “good life” of its members. Coupled with an empathy for the natural world, this led to environmental and Green Party politics before discovering Karl Marx, Peter Kropotkin, and later the works of Murray Bookchin and John Clark. Subsequent influences include Joel Kovel, Capitalism, Nature, SocialismJohn Bellamy Foster, and the Monthly Review.

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About Social Ecology

Social ecology is a radical (“getting to the root of” ecological dislocation), interdisciplinary sub-field of ecology based in modernist, dialectical philosophy and the cutting edge of social and ecological science. As John P. Clark simply states, social ecology is “an attempt to understand the dialectical movement of society within the context of the larger dialectic of society and nature.”

With antecedents in the libertarian socialist tradition and Marxist economics, social ecology formally emerged with the work of Murray Bookchin in the 1960s. Social ecology studies the human impact of ecological dislocation, the impact such dislocation (in the form of climate change, for one) has on human societies, as well as the social dislocations in human society that are at the root of the aforementioned human causes of ecological dislocation. Social ecologists often articulate the working premises of the field to be that the ongoing ecological crisis is rooted in deep seated social issues, and that the current domination of humanity over nature is rooted in the domination of human by human. Consequently, in order to arrive at a substantive solution to the ecological crisis, oppression and exploitation of all forms must be overcome within human society.

This blog aims to develop concrete social ecological praxes filtered through the particularity and history of place, specifically arid lands and the deserts of the American Southwest. It hopes to engage in beneficial dialog with complimentary movements seeking to fundamentally reorient society in ways that are ecological, directly democratic, decentralized, and that overcome scarcity. Those interested in working toward such a society are encouraged to get in touch!