Issue re: “the agency of social change”
This issue has had the left bogged down for decades.
There was a strong and important labor movement for about a hundred years. The early period of the industrial revolution was brutal. As less agricultural labor was needed millions moved from the countryside into the cities. The work in the early factories was inhumane. The struggle for shorter working hours, better conditions, and a modicum of benefits was vital and fairly successful: industrial unionization, passage of minimum wage and general labor laws, social safety nets, etc.
We should continue to support labor in its inevitable contention with capital. But we should let go of Marxist-derived notions like the “class-for-itself proletariat” or the spurious “working class becomes aware of its historical mission.” Those ideas are delusionary, and they keep us locked into a quixotic paradigm of social change.
Agency of social change? “Just people” (from all walks of life) creating Transition Towns, ecovillages, eco-neighborhoods, cooperatives . . . conscious of the desirability of living more lightly, more locally, and more simply. People fostering a counterculture that manifests as sharing, permaculture, and mutual support networks . . . as settlements and zones of green living and right livelihood. “New ways” communities that undermine the dominance of the states and the corporations, becoming the basis for the ultimate bioregional reorganization of society.
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At the “macro” level (re: “system change”) we should strive for an eco-socialist transformation.
We should view eco-socialism not as an end in itself, but as a way to open pathways toward the greening of society. A bioregional world will be characterized by diversity in regard to all aspects of human lifeways, including economic relations.