Michael Johnson

SENSITIVITY.   That "other world" that we know is possible becomes realized much more by our becoming its people than by the projects and institutions we create on that journey. We create from what we are far more than from what we think we should be. And we create stuff outside us to help us become more aligned with what is possible. So let us focus on our projects and institutions emerging and developing out of our continually becoming more cooperative and democratic beings, not from who we are now.

Floating like a butterfly and humming like a mockingbird                                                                                                                                                              

Here's one reflection on the first of the four questions I identified in Movements Moving Together 2:

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What I am trying to do in this series of Movements Moving Together (MMT) blogs is think out loud about how movements that want to advance democracy more deeply and broadly into our cultures can work together in this multi-century project that is probably in its 3rd century at this point.

Here’s a short TED talk that might send you off wondering about empathy and compassion.

Some time ago, Paul Hawken accurately proclaimed “a blessed unrest” pulsating across the planet. Few folks were seeing such rich possibilities for a better world. A few years later came Occupy Wall Street and all that responded to it. That phenomenon lit up the “blessed unrest” like a global Christmas tree.

Proposition: first, experience; then, words and stories.

Pope Francis just released his first encyclical, "The Joy of the Gospel." And indeed, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, the new Pope's primary spokesperson, seems to have been a genuine herald.

Bedrock conviction: oppression is a relational dynamic involving at least two roles: oppressor and oppressed. If we want to relate to someone or some situation in a different way, then we have to move out of and beyond these two roles. We have to focus our attention in a way in which we can experience the other as neither oppressive nor oppressed. It has to be focused on the other as genuinely and humbly as possible in order to experience them as they are. At least as much as possible.

Living in community and being involved in collective action in all its forms puts one right in the middle of what blocks the development of cooperation and mutuality. What an advantage this can be! Peter Senge, who helped develop the concept of the “learning organization,” describes it:


The mutual need for seeing each other

The world is filled with alternative lifestyles and ways of earning livelihoods. Awareness of them is quite dim and scattered, however. Even people living these different lifestyles and practicing different ways of producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services are surprisingly unaware of each other. Mainstream media is, well, radically mainstream. GEO's Fall 2013 Theme seeks to fill and bridge some of the gaps that MSM’s radically exclusive approach creates.

Solidarity Economics is a powerful framework for thinking about alternative and grassroots economics. GEO’s Ethan Miller showed this in his 7-part series on solidarity economics and Occupy. It is also a global movement for which the United Nations convened an international conference  in May of this year. “Another world is possible” can make a strong claim to being its mantra.

Here’s  a stunning video report on some research that is looking with some depth at economic behavior and how we see ourselves and others. I think the implications of this work for economic democracy and understanding empowerment processes could be awesome.

Over her 20+ years as a reporter she has gotten a sense of what's happening that isn't easily replicated by anybody else. She sees a crisis and opportunity like that famous Chinese character.
Think of democracy as a garden: structures would be the plants and culture the soil. The soil will determine the quality of the plants more than the plants the quality of the soil. Plant democratic structures in conflicted soil and you get a mix that seriously lacks cooperation and collective power.
How did gays move a nation while racism tenaciously holds its ground?
Phyllis Chesler’s reflections on how the radical feminist movement was powerful but also killed its own
How to destroy relationships, communities, and democracy

New Society Publishers, an alternate publishing company still thriving, published When Workers Decide in 1992 (WWD). It's a collection of writings on the workplace democracy movement gathered largely from issues of Changing Work, the predecessor of GEO. When I volunteered to take on the task of reviewing it in order to shed some historical perspective on the role and significance of the work GEO has done, I thought it was going to be a rather straightforward task. It didn't turn out that way.

A major figure in the women’s liberation movement in the 60s and 70s, her dynamic flame burned out when she was only in her 20s. Her story dramatizes two dynamics that cripple radical movements.
How do we talk and think together coherently about love, domination, and cooperation?


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