COMM-ORG Papers Volume 17, 2011

Carl Davidson: From SDS and The Guardian, to cyRev and CyberRadicalism for the 21st Century

Peter Miller

 March 2011


Students for a Democratic Society -- SDS
The Guardian and the New Communist Movement — the 70's, 80's, and into the 90's
The Third Wave Manifesto and CyberRadicalism
cyRev and the Community Technology Movement
Solidarity Economy, the Committees of Correspondence, and the Where to Begin / WTB Network
The Final Word: Manuel Castells and the Economy, Society, and Culture — and Politics and Political Theory — of the Information Age
About the Author


This paper is an edited version of the first of three case studies that make up the final chapter of my dissertation on political theory and community technology, "Political Theory as an Avocation: Community Technology and the Prospects for Democracy in America."i These case studies cover projects that were developed over extended periods of time and reflect, from very different angles, the value that a political theoretical perspective provides in showing both how technology has shaped our common world and how its tools and resources can be used for community organizing, community building, and democratic reconstruction.

Carl Davidson

Here we look at the career and world of Carl Davidson, who burst onto the national scene in 1966 and has remained and indeed helped define ongoing and developing trends in radical politics — in theory and in practice — ever since. Given the long path he has traveled, it will be helpful to consider it in the following sections:

  1. Students for a Democratic Society / SDS
  2. The Guardian and the New Communist Movement — the 70's, 80's, and into the 90's
  3. The Third Wave Manifesto and CyberRadicalism
  4. cyRev and the Community Technology Movement
  5. Solidarity Economy, the Committees of Correspondence, and the Where to Begin / WTB Network
  6. The Final Word: Manuel Castells and the Economy, Society, and Culture — and Politics and Political Theory — of the Information Age

As the journalistic reports I have written over the last couple of years show, especially those published in,ii there are good and promising indications that the field of community organizing is taking up technology tools and resources to accomplish its aims in a dramatic way and that the adoption of social networking and other web 2.0 resources are recognized as integral to any successful political or social change effort. Their growing use represents intimations and embryonic developments that need to be elaborated upon in with a more all-encompassing perspective and an historical overview pointing to how that transformation could take place, what the major forces determinative of its possibilities are, and how they could be cultivated and integrated into a more robust movement of greater democratic possibilities.

To build on the foundations that have been established and provide some of this broader perspective, we can look to those who have done this work over an extended period and done so with a long-range perspective in mind, and here the career of a long-time political activist Carl Davidson, involved for close to half a century in thinking about and actively participating in efforts to develop both a theory and practice of a more democratic common life and doing so, particularly in recent decades, paying special attention to both the nature of the forces that are shaping our emerging technological society and to integrating its tools and resources into a broad-based movement, is particularly informative.

Students for a Democratic Society -- SDS

Students for a Democratic Society was only a part of the political phenomenon known as "the Movement" in the 1960's, and the Movement only a part of the larger process of cultural upheaval of the time, but SDS was "the organized expression of that Movement, its intellectual mentor and the source of much of its energy, the largest, best known, and most influential element within it for a decade."iii Kirkpatrick Sale's extended organizational history, SDS, includes a detailed account of Carl Davidson's involvement, and the book's perspective as well as its information provide a useful combination for assessing it.

Carl Davidson first appears more than a third of the way through the history, "a gangling, mustached youth from the University of Nebraska," at a conference held at the Illinois University campus in Champaign Urbana over the 1965 Christmas vacation, "the last SDS conference they [the old guard] would exert any appreciable influence on." The following year, at the 1966 annual convention at

a remote Methodist youth camp on the shores of Clear Lake, in north central Iowa — some 350 delegates from 140 chapters me[t] from August 29 to September 2. Leadership was now transferred from the original members to the newer ones, from the Eastern intellectuals to the middle American activists, from those born in the left wing traditions of the Coasts to those raised in the individualistic heritage of the frontier, from — as the Clear Lake rhetoric had it — the "politicos" to the "anarchists." It was the ascendance of what was now known in SDS as "prairie power."

…Carl Davidson, twenty three, looked like prairie power: tall and lanky, slightly stooped in the shoulder, with longish brown hair and a Pancho Villa mustache, he gave off something of the air of a latter day Daniel Boone — and he smoked a corncob pipe. He was born in Pennsylvania of working class parents and went, because it was inexpensive, to Penn State, where he majored in, of all things, philosophy. ("The problem of calling oneself a socialist," he would tell the people at Clear Lake, is that "socialism is what philosophers call 'an essentially contested concept' — that is to say, a word which has so many definitions that you have to define it before you can begin to use it.") … in 1965, he took a job in the philosophy department at the University of Nebraska, where he continued to be active in student politics, operating as a traveler for SDS in the Plains Region and helping to organize a Campus Freedom Democratic Party at Nebraska in the spring of 1966.iv

That summer Carl Davidson was elected national SDS Vice President.

Davidson's popularity and election could be attributed to the immediate impact he received for his paper, A Student Syndicalist Movement: University Reform Revisited, passed out in mimeograph form at Clear Lake. "It was, startlingly, almost wholly free of the strangulating social science rhetoric that made up the yeast of most of the early SDS papers; it was easy reading, with careful organization, lots of subheads, and concrete examples; and it was about half the length of the usual SDS position paper."

The concept of student power was inherent in much that had already gone on in the 1960s.

But it did not develop into a separate and self conscious movement, with an enunciated strategy and an organizational shape, until the Clear Lake convention. What it eventually became was something more than that encompassed by SDS, for it developed into the expression, at disparate campuses at different times for diverse reasons, of an entire awakening generation, many of whom had no interest in SDS or even in organized radical politics. But it would not have emerged when it did, and could not have taken the form that it did, were it not for SDS — and Carl Davidson.v

Sale quotes A Student Syndicalist Movement extensively, calls it "the new breed's own Port Huron Statement," encapsulating the possibility — a dream with a lineage going back to early SDS — for organizing a student-led mass radical base with a capacity for prolonged resistance, dedication, and endurance with every SDS chapter organizing a student syndicalist movement on its campus. As its youthful author explained:

I use the term "syndicalist" for a crucial reason. In the labor struggle, the syndicalist unions worked for industrial democracy and workers' control, rather than better wages and working conditions. Likewise, and I cannot repeat this often enough, the issue for us is "student control" (along with a yet to be liberated faculty in some areas). What we do not want is a "company union" student movement that sees itself as a body that, under the rubric of "liberalization," helps a paternal administration make better rules for us. What we do want is a union of students where the students themselves decide what kind of rules they want or don't want. Or whether they need rules at all. Only this kind of student organization allows for decentralization, and the direct participation of students in all those decisions daily affecting their lives.

Sales puts it that A Student Syndicalist Movement was "a document for a new generation of SDSers," for those

who want once again to turn their attention to the campuses, once again to show the need for students to control the decisions that affect their lives, once again to get students to operate on their immediate felt grievances, once again to radicalize them by having them see the connections between these grievances and the national malaise. The first generation of SDS had started out by seeking its allies on the campus, but after a time turned from there to the ghettos, to the poor, to the blacks, and later still to the war, to the middle class, to the professionals. Now the second generation of SDS was bringing the organization back: build the student left

Prairie power put its stamp upon the organization in other related, quite pervasive ways. SDS would develop what was called an "organizing thrust" toward the campuses, operating not so much with a national program as by energizing local people in local chapters around local grievances. The convention also pushed for decentralization within SDS, downgrading the National Office in favor of regional and local organizations.

As time progressed, the prairie people around the National Office began revising their notions of just what should be done at the national level. It didn't take long before Davidson was urging SDSers to "work for better communications, internal education, and more thoughtful national programs." A new level of radicalism had been reached by the national leadership.

Davidson, too, argued that "the system must be fundamentally changed" and asserted that among the choice of weapons, "my own choice is revolution." Talk about the need for an ideology became increasingly common, references to Karl Marx were studded without apology through various pieces now, and regularly the idea of "socialism" — which no early SDSer could have used without embarrassment — was being championed.vii

National Secretary Greg Calvert and Davidson both made extensive tours on campuses, visiting more than 100 in the spring of '67, "pushing their conviction that the time had come to move from protest to resistance and urging draft refusal as one of those ways." They were, Sale says,

heady with the success they found in reaching the students. Davidson, describing …the "Guatemala guerrilla" approach he used with students, said, "You'd be astonished at the reception this gets, when people realize that they aren't alone, that the failures and the problems they ascribed to themselves stem in large part from the society in which they live and the images of themselves they accepted from society."viii Membership was exploding. After one tour early in the year that would see a growth to 200 chapters across the country, Davidson wrote: "According to our modest, if not conservative, estimates, about 30,000 young Americans consider themselves members of SDS chapters. [This] is remarkable in two ways. First, we are much larger than we thought we were. Second, starting from almost zero, we have achieved that number in 7 years; we have grown tenfold in only 2 years." And as to its make-up:

It was vast, containing multitudes: the old guard, the East Coast intellectuals, the prairie power people, the hordes of the upper Midwest, the small college and backwater students, the West Coast activists, the politicized hippies. The political range extended from naïve liberals caught up by student power or marching against the war, through connections making radicals without formal ideology, to red book Maoists of the Progressive Labor stripe; as Carl Davidson assessed things in February: "We have within our ranks Communists of both varieties, socialists of all sorts, 3 or 4 different kinds of anarchists, anarchosyndicalists, syndicalists, social democrats, humanist liberals, a growing number of ex YAF [Young Americans for Freedom] libertarian laissez faire capitalists, and, of course, the articulate vanguard of the psychedelic liberation front."ix

Along with the explosion, a distance began to develop between the more radical and committed national leadership and the vast majority of its membership and the activity and interests of local chapters. Although this was apparent at the National Convention in the summer of 1967 Davidson was elected to national office again, a rarity in the history of the tumultuous organization, this time as Inter organizational Secretary.

In what Sale calls "a most remarkable turnaround," Davidson moved away from the students first idea that had energized the student power strategy in favor of forging a broader American left; he continued to represent that leadership element that was uncompromising in its language and radicalism.

[G]radually quotations from Marx, then Lenin, and then the modem European Marxists found their way into SDS and other Movement literature. Carl Davidson was now talking easily about "class analysis" and "imperialism" — "Who among us today," he asked in November, "would argue that America is not an imperialist power?" — and when he went on to assert, in a discussion of whether Dow recruiters had the civil liberty to operate on campuses, that "to respect and operate within the realm of bourgeois civil liberties is to remain enslaved," he felt himself comfortably within the Marxist Leninist tradition — as indeed he was.x

On the other hand, as some national SDS leadership grew more militant and took a turn towards justified violence, the general sentiment seemed to be that violence was not defensible morally, not persuasive publicly, and not effective tactically, a sentiment Davidson shared. "Davidson took pains to dissociate the resistance people from 'the Left adventurers,' or, simply, 'the crazies.'"xi

Davidson's official status was coming to an end as SDS moved, as Sale characterizes it, from Resistance to Revolution and began to break apart in 1969, and he has but a few final mentions and appearances after this. Sale recalls his celebrating the outbreak of student protest at Columbia which symbolized a successful culmination of the period of resistance, proof that the long months of SDS work were paying off, both in the targets students were picking (war, complicity, racism, rather than dress codes and dorm hours) and in the tactics (sit ins, hostages, takeovers, not petitions and pickets). Davidson's defense of the Revolutionary Youth Movement strategy over the Progressive Labor Worker-Student Alliance approach in building on the commonalities between students and workers recognized an appropriate place for national and ethnic self-determination. What stands out for Sale were Davidson's tempered reports in The Guardian of the antagonism and bitterness of the factionalism, the "despair and frustration and anger" of the final session of the National Council meeting in Ann Arbor in December of '68, the "ugliness and discordance" that "surpassed anything known in the organization before and left a bitter taste in the mouths of most SDSers that lasted for months to come. Carl Davidson caught it all — …a stark and rapid change from the time, only a few months before, [of] the 'new atmosphere of optimism and aggressiveness' —and it augured dark days ahead."xii

Kirkpatrick Sale quotes Davison on lots of the organizational statistics he uses throughout his account as well as at places like these. It's not surprising that he includes Davidson among the dozen or so exemplars he lists at the end of his introduction on "A Decade of Defiance":

SDS produced a remarkable series of leaders and thinkers, some of the best of the generation — Al Haber, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, Todd Gitlin, Carl Oglesby, Carol Glassman, Carl Davidson, Paul Booth, Marge Piercy, Jeff Shero, Jane Adams, Greg Calvert, Bernardine Dohrn, and literally hundreds of others — who continued to work in the forefront of political change, writing, speaking, organizing, researching, traveling, even after graduating from SDS and even after its demise, well on into the present decade.xiii

The Guardian and the New Communist Movement — the 70's, 80's, and into the 90's

Into the seventies, radicals went in a wide variety of directions, one large and varied contingency, as the history of SDS reflects, being subsumed under the diverse traditions of Marxism and Marxism-Leninism. As one section of the Revolutionary Youth Movement/RYM was transformed into the Weathermen, another diverse section, RYM II, came to represent what has come to be referred to as the New Communist Movement, a trend in the U.S. New Left which sought inspiration in the experience of the Russian, Chinese, and Cuban Revolutions but wanted to do so independently of already-existing U.S. communist parties.

Into the seventies and beyond, we can usefully associate the kind of new communist movement politics Carl Davidson's transformation underwent with that of The Guardian, where in 1974 he published a 13 part series making up "Left in Form, Right in Essence: A Critique of Contemporary Trotskyism," reflecting just how seriously divisions within Marxist-Leninism took one another. It was his best-known contribution to the paper but hardly his only one.

The Wikipedia provides a useful picture of The Guardian, an independent weekly newspaper published between 1948 and 1992 in New York City, founded as the National Guardian by supporters of the Progressive Party presidential campaign of Henry Wallace as an alternative to the increasingly pro-Cold War mainstream press — and then never, thereafter, for the rest of its life, formally associated with another actual political party. Presaging the new journalism of the 1960's, the National Guardian along with the daily newspaper PM published early campaign reporting by Norman Mailer and was a locus of support for the American Labor Party.

The Guardian's reportage about the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case was so important to the defense that James Aronson, one of the paper's founders, was named guardian to the Rosenbergs' children. As Robert Meeropol wrote is his autobiography:

My family brought the daily New York Times. Although I was interested in current affairs, I was not a good reader and so did not read it. If we got the Communist Party newspaper, the Daily Worker, I never saw it. Instead the left-wing but non-Communist National Guardian was delivered to our apartment weekly in a plain brown wrapper. The Guardian was special to our family. Founded by former New York Times reporters Cedric Belfrage, John McManus, and Jim Aronson, its publication of William Reuben's multiarticle analysis of my parent's trial in 1951 sparked the public campaign to save their lives.xiv

In the '60s the paper became known for its independent and investigative journalism — on civil rights especially, and Mark Lane's critical account of the Warren Commission's report on the John F. Kennedy assassination. Conflicts developed between Aronson and the new staff, and in 1968 he sold his shares to the staff who shortened the name to The Guardian.

In the 1970s the Guardian adopted a Marxist-Leninist ideology initially aligned with the Third-worldist and Maoist New Communist Movement and later oriented toward The Trend. The paper editorially called for a new Marxist-Leninist party in the United States. It never aligned with any particular group and remained critical of the small New Left party organizations. At the same time, it opened its pages to opposing viewpoints and continued a tradition of investigative journalism.

In the early 1980's the paper did discuss forming a new political party via establishing Guardian Clubs, but none of those plans was ever implemented. The Wikipedia entry concludes: "The Guardian ceased publication in 1992 after years of financial difficulties and declining circulation."

Max Elbaum provides a useful look at this broad attraction for Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, and Castroismxv — we should each have a story to tell about how any democratic radicalism at some point faces the issue of party/Party/agency.

In any case, the account Elbaum provides has a great deal more detail and some useful flourishes on the story, not surprising given The Guardian's role in the new developing landscape.

From 1968 through the mid-1970's, the resulting New Communist Movement grew faster than any other current on the US left. At its height it held the allegiance of roughly 10,000 core activists and influenced many thousands more. It was the most racially integrated socialist tendency, with the highest proportion (25 to 30 percent or more) of people of color in its leadership and membership ranks. The largest circulation left newspaper of the time — the Guardian — promoted the new movement's outlook.

A section on "The Monthly Review and the Guardian" spells out the vital role played by these periodicals, "widely read independent (that is, nonparty) publications," that young radicals relied upon for news and analysis, "especially important in countering tendencies toward isolation and narrowness." Elbaum helps provide a richer picture of the paper through the sixties, including its the stand against the Korean War, the contributions of W.E.B. Du Bois, and more details about the name change (apparently some young protestors associated the original title with the National Guard) and the masthead slogan change along with it, from "progressive newsweekly" to "radical newsweekly." Old left financial support was lost, then backing from the large pro-Israel contingent when the Guardian defended Palestinian national rights after the '67 Arab-Israeli War. But aggressive efforts to build ties with SDS, SNCC, and other anti-war and black liberation movements resulted in the paper's growth — in pages (from 12 to 24) and in readership (up to 24,000).xvi

The extensive coverage of national liberation movements, enthusiastic reports of Cuban and Chinese efforts to build socialism, and regular coverage from Vietnam by Wilfred Burchett were all highly regarded. "The paper served as one of the main vehicles for left debate," and among the individuals contributing regularly to the paper's columns were SDS or former SDS activists Greg Calvert, Carol Neiman, and Todd Gitlin in addition to Carl Davidson, and Black liberation veterans Julius Lester, Robert Allen and Phil Hutchings. The Guardian's cultural section became one of its most popular features when former Sing Out! editor Irwin Silber took over that section in '68, all this under Managing Editor Jack A Smith, who had led the '67 staff revolt.

Moving towards Leninism and a working class focus, the Guardian "tried to balance advocacy of this outlook with calls for unity of the entire left against the war in Vietnam and in support of Black liberation." The paper continued to support Cuba and China in the Sino-Soviet split, and gave extended coverage to the Communist Party-centered campaign to free Angela Davis. "Standing out as one of the few broad-based radical institutions of the 1960s to sustain itself into the 1970s, the paper's influence on activists just turning towards revolutionary ideas was immense."xvii

Into the 70's and thereafter, in opposition to the swing toward left purism,

The Guardian continued to advocate flexible tactics in mass movements and criticized "no united action with revision" as a recipe for marginalization. On party building, it rejected the idea of focusing narrowly on internal movement debate and continued to call for a cooperative effort among wide sectors of the movement. It was more willing than any other movement institution with nationwide influence to express reservations about the emphasis on orthodoxy, whether of the Stalinist or CPC [Communist Party of China] varieties.xviii

The Guardian was on track to develop a clear, forthright statement of the New Communist Movement. In the summer of '72, the first issue of the paper's 25th year, the editors openly declared, "the major task confronting us is to assist in bringing to birth a new revolutionary political party, based in the working-class, armed with the science of Marxism-Leninism, committed to socialist revolution." As Elbaum notes, "The editorial acknowledged that a newspaper could not create a party, but committed the Guardian to providing a forum to focus and debate the principal questions facing Marxist-Leninists." The 1973 forums were massive, over 1,200 people attended the one in New York in March.xix

By the mid-1970's, "nonrevolutionary variants of socialism and radicalism were gaining ground at the expense of the entire revolutionary left." One sign of the shift was the appearance of the newspaper In These Times (ITT) in November 1976, the latest in a series of vehicles launched by James Weinstein to regain the initiative for left social democracy, a "more ambitious enterprise than Socialist Revolution launched with a similar purpose six years earlier." Other signs of the trend include the appearance and growth of Mother Jones, the Clamshell Alliance, and "new social movements" while the various parties of the New Communist Movement fractured and dissolved — along with the Communist Party USA:

The CPUSA went through a significant split at the end of 1991, with up to a third of its 2,500 remaining members breaking away after criticizing the Gus Hall leadership for clinging to Stalinist procedures, restricting inner-party democracy, failing to appreciate the potential of the Jackson/Rainbow movement and giving only lip service to the party's traditional position on the centrality of Black liberation. The dissidents went on to form the nucleus of a new group, the Committees of Correspondence, which emerged as the major 1990s "regroupment" effort on the US left.xx

"The Guardian's Demise" is a section all its own near the end of the book.

Facing ever-increasing competition from In These Times and badly hurt by the post-1989 decline of the Marxist left and anti-imperialist solidarity movements, the Guardian entered the new decade in precarious shape. In keeping with its 1980s posture of backing a nonsectarian convergence of tendencies to the left of social democracy, in 1991-92 the paper gave favorable coverage to the Committees of Correspondence.

In the summer of 1992 "financial woes caught up with the Guardian and the paper folded. At the very end the collapse was abrupt… [B]y the mid-1990s the organizational tracks of the NCM had all but completely disappeared."xxi

The Third Wave Manifesto and CyberRadicalism

In 1993, a year after the Guardian closed its doors, Davidson published, along with co-author Jerry Harris, history professor at DeVry University in Chicago, and Ivan Handler, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the State of Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, a new manifesto, "The Promise and Peril of the Third Wave: Socialism and Democracy for the 21st Century." It appeared the following year in the premier issue of cyRev: a Journal of Cybernetic Revolution, Sustainable Socialism & Radical Democracy, founded and co-edited by Davidson and Harris. In 2005 Davidson and Jerry Harris published it in a collection of essays, CyberRadicalism: A New Left for a Global Age.

The so-called Third Wave Manifesto, published on May Day in 1993, was a product of the Third Wave Study Group, a working group on socialist theory initiated by the three authors, whose first task was "to rigorously re-examine classic Marxist-Leninist theory and practice from the vantage point of Alvin Toffler’s book, The Third Wave."xxii

As all-encompassing and grasping of the whole of human history, as graphically and dramatically as anything Hegel or Marx might have conceived and presented, Toffler's teaching is clear and straight-forward and so is the group's: Out of the state of nature humanity transformed itself into, first, an agricultural society, then an industrial one, and now a technological one. The implication of these transformations has not yet been fully grasped and appreciated by those on the left.

To help with that grasp and appreciation, in addition to the Manifesto, cyRev was published from 1994-2004, eight issues in all. As the editorial introduction to the first issue begins:

There's an important revolution going on in the world today. It's being driven by new developments in information technology and the far-reaching economic changes they have caused. Digitalized knowledge has now become the major component in the production of new wealth. The information society is supplanting industrial society as surely as industrial society replaced agrarian society.

The depth of these changes, however, has been largely ignored by much of the left community. At best, most consider them as "secondary aspect" to more traditional notions of class struggle and capitalist crisis, rather than as a new tidal wave sweeping through history. At worst, those who focus on the information revolution are dismissed as "technological determinists" or elitists of one variety or another.

We want to change this situation. We think the time has come to create a self-conscious current within the broader progressive movement that grasps the decisive importance of the information revolution. We want to help facilitate an ongoing investigation and debate into the impact of that revolution on the prospects for both capitalism and socialism. In addition, we want to put that discussion into the center of the debate on the left's agenda.

Our basic analysis stresses the revolutionary change in the means of production in which information technologies are the driving force behind the creation of new value in society. The changes here are having a dramatic impact on both the relations of production and the nature of work. There are new social divisions being created along with a realignment of classes and strata around many critical issues. The ground for organizing the class struggle is shifting; there are new dangers of prolonged joblessness, repression, chauvinism and war. But there are also new opportunities creating new possibilities for a democratic and ecologically sustainable socialism. These require new approaches to strategy, tactics and methods of work and organization. xxiii

To which we might add, among the new approaches required, are those for theory and perspective.

And the Third World Manifesto is, indeed, decisive in this regard. Looking back on it, in 2005, Davidson and Harris wrote: "Since its publication on the internet and in our journal cyRev in 1993, our manifesto has been translated into several languages and widely discussed among likeminded groupings around the world. The other sections of this book, and additional work of the authors published elsewhere, all have their roots in this founding document of our cyberMarxist trend." The emphasis is added to what might otherwise go unnoticed, as a nicety or passing fancy. xxiv

If "The Promise and Peril of the Third Wave: Socialism and Democracy for the 21st Century" does not quite look like the Port Huron Statement of its time because it addresses Socialists, do look ahead for just a moment to the broad coalition, the united front against authoritarian, militaristic, anti-immigrant, xenophobic fundamentalist fascism that the Third Wave Manifesto ends with and that CyberRadicalism spells out in more detail as well. In "Globalization, Theocracy and the New Fascism: An Analysis of the U.S. Right's Rise to Power & What Can Be Done About It," Davidson and Harris conclude their final essay and the book with a call for "A Broad Nonpartisan Alliance."

Defeating the new fascism in America requires a broad nonpartisan alliance to defend peace, democracy and diversity. Such an alliance must reach beyond a core of progressive forces to win over and activate more moderate forces that are inside and outside of all political parties and throughout civil society, which are willing to take a stand against war and the growing danger of the antidemocratic right.xxv

The alliance includes the African-American church, the social justice commitment of the Latino church as well as the traditional global justice and peace commitments of the Quakers, Unitarians, and liberal-minded Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims, the women's movement and the related struggles around gender and sexual orientation, youth and students, the newly insurgent wing of the labor movement, all these in addition to the core knowledge/technology workers and the dispossessed and low-wage, low-skill service economy workers. And when the strategy is laid out — especially building mass communication, base communities, and wider alliances — the inclusivity is even broader: "grassroots organizations in neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and churches," reaching out "even further to the anti-theocratic groupings and caucuses within more moderate church and civic organizations, as well as in the Democratic and Republican parties."xxvi

That's a broad coalition and alliance indeed — and its full breadth is not yet fully spelled out even with this.

The Manifesto's message, addressed to Socialists on the one hand and the broad coalition and alliance of the left and center on the other, is as straight-forward as Toffler's analysis: Both socialism and capitalism have been flawed in their acceptance and agreement with the dynamics of industrial society. It is here that one finds the root of many of the problems that each camp frequently attributes to the other.

In its limited analysis of the crisis so far, we believe the left has downplayed what the existing capitalist and socialist economies of the West have in common in real life. In industrialized society, labor and machinery are organized along similar lines in both capitalist and socialist countries — the primary means of generating wealth is the mass production of the factory-based assembly line. While each economy has its own particularities, the main patterns of socialized mass production are reflected and reproduced in all arenas of human endeavor. Moreover, these systems of mass production are linked together in country after country, as a dynamic and expanding market develops national industrial societies into a global system. For industrial mass production, the main dominant patterns of social organization are the forms of presumed rationality: concentration, centralization, standardization, specialization, maximalization and synchronization.xxvii

Presumed rationality — Davidson and Harris offer another non-traditional critique here, on the non-sustainability of second wave industrial production, that we shall return to. For the moment, consider their exegesis on the limitations of industrial society, on the lessons of history regarding concentration, centralization, standardization, specialization, maximalization and synchronization — "the socialist crisis was hastened by its earlier uncritical and dogmatic embrace of industrial patterns as 'scientific' or 'progressive' regardless of limitations or conditions."

Second wave industrial capitalists concentrated giant factories with huge productive forces of machinery, labor, and capital where communist "concentrations" were to be built as part of the newly massified neighborhoods. The industrial principle of concentration was carried forward into Soviet economic and social planning. Whole new cities were built around giant factories. As Lenin put it, "maximization was the 'highest level of development.' Bureaucracy was the inevitable and natural organizational form when all production and planning was to be concentrated under the state."xxviii (Note the criticism of Lenin.)

Centralization — the communist party was to be built along the same centralized lines as factory management — Rank-and-file workers, a full-time middle management cadre, and an elite board of trustees or central committee. "Just as industrial management reflected hierarchical relations of power, socialist political relations contained the same design." Democracy was never a reality in either system:

The "democratic centralism" that developed within this pattern was one where democracy was always a secondary aspect to a centralized and hierarchical leadership responsible for decisions and control of information. This pattern of centralized power was as true for capitalist monopolies, as it was for socialist bureaucracies responsible for production. Within the ruling party itself, Stalinism took this principle to its zenith in its centralization of international political authority.

Specialization — the efficiency of a labor task was seen in its specialization, which also gave rise to the professionalization of work. For Lenin this meant the professionalization of the cadre into a full-time revolutionary. "Eventually this resulted in the separation and domination of political and technical work from democratic input and oversight." (Another Lenin problem of note.)

Lastly, mass production also produced standardization — everything from time, weights, and products, to culture and ideas. "For socialism, the impact was a dogmatic standardization of Marxism, the political line set by the one accepted center, the Soviet Communist Party." Differences were not only suppressed inside the USSR, but even worldwide. "And perhaps even more destructive, was the idea that there existed only one economic model on which socialism could be built."

A one-sided emphasis on all the above elements was the product of industrial society, and forms a fresh basis of criticism for a lack of socialist democracy. Socialism, understandably, could only function within the world to which it was born. When socialism embraced the proletariat as the primary agency of progressive change, it also tended to romanticize industrial society. Socialism thus consciously or unconsciously integrated second wave industrialism’s internal designs and limitations into its own theory and practice.xxix

Were there democratic, open, participatory alternatives? Davidson and Harris sketch out some possibilities: both the Soviets and Chinese experimented at different times with worker-controlled factory committees, worker congresses, and collective management. They characterize conditions under Lenin as having "relatively open and free wheeling political debates, rather than a standardization of thought" and do note that he became more acutely aware of the dangers of bureaucracy as they emerged towards the end of his life. After Lenin’s death, the theoretical and programmatic effort to launch an alternative to the abuses of industrial socialism was best defined by Nikolai Bukharin, whose defense of the New Economic Program in the Soviet Union "was a strategic plan to build socialism through a balance between rural and urban economies… [a] 'dynamic economic equilibrium' in which the growth of industry was geared to the growth of agriculture, instead of its one-sided exploitation. This view reserved an important role for the market, and saw class struggle mainly as managed, peaceful competition between larger state enterprises and the smaller private sector."

While these intimations and possibilities existed, the very design of large-scale production "enforced its own organizational logic." It "became extremely difficult to permanently build a democratic socialism… This path was certainly not inevitable, but the global and historic context of the industrial era was an important factor in developing, supporting, and rationalizing the Stalinist economic plan."xxx

In addition to the problems involved in romanticizing destructive features of industrialism's logic, to return now to the Davidson-Harris critique of industrialism's presumed rationality, it turns out industrialism is not really rational at all.

[D]espite its claim of rationality, industrial society is not a sustainable form of civilization, especially as it expands on a world scale. Its energy sources, whether capitalist or socialist, are primarily nonrenewable hydrocarbons—oil, natural gas or coal—or toxic radioactive materials. Not only are these energy sources irrationally, unevenly and unfairly distributed; their full and complete use is also irrational. The steady, ongoing overuse of carbon-based systems would transform all of the solid and liquid forms of the element now underground and pump them into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. The end result is the “greenhouse effect”—a complex web of environmental disasters wreaking ecological havoc and rendering the biosphere unfit for human habitation.

This feature of industrial society is not a problem of the distant future. It is the “dirty little secret” of today’s world…xxxi

This view of industrialism as the main problematic, not capitalism, marks the Third Wave study group's distinctiveness in contrast to most varieties of Marxist-Leninism and socialism. It is distinctive, too, in the primacy and integrated perspective it provides on environmentalism and green politics. In fact, for third wavers, they are principles of Marxism itself:

Any economic program that attempts to serve the present through the unrestricted looting of the resources of future generations can only be called reactionary and dooms us to strategic failure. It also opposes the basic principles espoused by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto, where they insisted that communists distinguish themselves by taking care of the future within the movement of the present and by affirming the unity of the workers and democratic forces of all countries above any particular national or sectoral interest. In this sense, the founders of scientific socialism were the forerunners of the “Think Globally, Act Locally” slogan embraced by today’s Greens.xxxii

To return to the manifesto's analysis, just as the coming of the industrial era brought with it an explosion of creative productivity along with its devastations, today’s technological revolution has done the same.

Technology has provided the foundation for pushing industrial mass production to new heights: upgraded factories producing an ever-expanding variety of commodities of improved quality at lower prices with less labor, distributed via integrated capital markets in a 24-hour, on-line global system of exchange. This revolution in the productive forces has its foundation in the invention of the microchip and the mass replication of miniaturized integrated circuits, resulting in a device that expanded the ability of machines to process information rapidly. Just as machinery was able to embed and concentrate the fruits of human labor many times over, so technology has added a quantum leap in productivity to that machinery.

Neither of the two earlier revolutions is entirely complete; the persistence of second wave transformations and upheavals continues to surge in the industrial revolutions in the formerly agricultural regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. But the third wave of change is spreading rapidly, as a majority of its labor force becomes mainly and irreversibly engaged in processing information and providing services, rather than directly producing hard commodities or farm products. The traditional goods of basic industry continue to be produced with a relatively smaller and smaller proportion of the labor force.

U.S. agriculture illustrates the power of both waves.

Less than 100 years ago, a majority of the American labor force worked on farms for a living. Today U.S. farms are the most productive in the world, supplying not only the domestic market but the world market as well. But now less than 3% of the labor force works on farms. Mechanization and relatively large amounts of fertile land are only part of the reason for this. U.S. farmers are also many times more productive than earlier farmers because of information — whether in the design of equipment, fertilizers or hybrid seeds, or in advance knowledge of weather patterns transmitted by modern communications.xxxiii

As a result of the revolutionary transformation in tools and the organization of work, the explosive growth in productivity and the creation of real increased value is best understood as the result of expanding the information content of the productive process. The machines of the industrial era were created by the combined efforts of inventive workers, scientists and engineers to amplify a worker’s abilities. In the information age, the knowledge content of production has become even higher. This has caused major changes in the make-up and nature of the working class — a more educated elite in certain sectors and in many service areas large numbers of very low skilled workers forced to compete for a dwindling number of better-paying jobs or forced out of employment altogether.

As to the problems this revolutionary transformation brings:

The result is a deep structural crisis. The advent of the third wave is by no means a twinkling, painless shift into a utopian wonderland. It is more like a hurricane, leaving disorder and destruction in its wake. The third wave guts entire workforces and industries to the point of collapse. It sabotages old markets and renders national borders meaningless. It makes possible a glut of high quality and relatively inexpensive goods, while also producing a radical and uneven restructuring of the working class itself.xxxiv

And along with a stagnant or shrinking force of both skilled and unskilled blue collar and service workers, there is a third group even more alienated and oppressed, "a growing deskilled pool of unemployed and even unemployable workers, the so-called 'permanent underclass'—people with inadequate incomes for the necessities of survival, let alone to buy the higher quality goods of third wave production… [that] fuels the unemployment and social chaos that breeds the danger of war and genocide."

Yet no matter how destructive the third tidal wave, "what is worse than the dangers posed by the third wave is the attempt to ignore or stifle the information technologies fueling it. This was a deep flaw in the structure of the 'command economies' of the Soviet bloc, which based their politics on the centralized control and restriction of information." Davidson and Harris are emphatic. It does no good to call for a re-industrialization of the economy along the lines of the blue-collar industries of the past.xxxv

A left that fails to base itself fundamentally on an accurate assessment of the nature and direction of these developments in the productive forces does not deserve to be called Marxist. At best, its critique of capitalism and industrial society generally will be limited to moralisms and will become irrelevant to practical politics. At worst, it will propose bankrupt solutions to the crises that will evoke a reactionary nostalgia for the fetters of the old order.xxxvi

It is here where they recount the "lessons of history" summarized earlier. "We believe revolutionaries who are genuinely progressive and democratic must reconstruct society with the people, tools and materials bequeathed to them by history." Second wave socialists and communists alike understood well that the working class was part of the most advanced productive forces and thus had the ability to remake society, but "they attempted to build a new world mainly by expanding the old unsustainable, second wave industrial base, rather than by nurturing a new historic economic order out of the most advanced achievements of the second wave."xxxvii

What is needed to accomplish this is political power in the hands of the masses plus the technology of the third wave. Third wave production is automated and cybernated, making it possible to revolutionize hierarchy and democratize access to information. It rests on a sustainable technology that diversifies production and accelerates the generation of knowledge. In effect, it is a new economic base that develops its own principles of society and culture making a sustainable and democratic socialism workable. In fact, post-industrial, third wave socialism may be the only socialism truly possible. xxxviii

The new dynamic and growing workforce creates entire new industries in biotechnology, aquaculture and alternative energies, the potential — perhaps the only potential — for combating the dirty little secret of industrialism, "the potential for sustainable advanced green technologies that can serve societies of abundance, decency and human rights for all." Moreover, "the growth of the new technology requires open, accessible and decentralized sources and outlets for the flow of information." Unlike industrialism and its "organizational logic," technological society is nourished by democracy.xxxix

And here the cyberradicals offer a vision centered on the renewal of democracy and sustainability. Democracy, Education, and Science are the Key To the Politics of the Third Wave. A participatory democracy of this type "draws upon the best of the Marxist tradition with [the] American radical tradition of John Dewey and W.E.B. DuBois." In their vision, under a socialist democracy of the third wave, centralization is scaled downward while communications are vastly enhanced. They conclude this section with a call for an expanded alliance that's the basis for the broad coalition they end the essay and book with.xl

The penultimate section, on "Economic Features of Third Wave Socialism: The Democratic Alienation of Control from Ownership," focuses on two more features not ordinarily associated with socialism in any traditional sense: "first, the separation of ownership of capital from the control of capital and second, the guided use of markets for the distribution of capital, goods and services."xli

With regard to the first, the authors "acknowledge that this is not an orthodox statement. Previous socialists held that the solution was to unite labor and capital under the control of labor. We believe this view has failed. We want to argue for a new viewpoint. We see socialism as the economic system that alienates the ownership of capital from its control." It may be non-traditional socialism, but they claim, too, that it's common sense, rooted in eminent domain, product liability laws, and all forms of social regulation under capitalism or any other system that puts limits on what owners can do with their property.xlii

Ownership isn't an absolute power — it can be guided and regulated, just as other power relations are regulated for the common good of society. Distinctions can be made — between individual property and capital, for instance, between what is owned by an individual for his or her own benefit (or family or friends) and what is owned for the production of wealth by others who are employed.

Individual property needs to be reasonably protected. But capital needs to be invested profitably in those areas that benefit society and sustain the ecosphere. Laws and regulations are among the tools that a government of radical reconstruction can use to achieve these goals without “nationalizing” or “statizing” the ownership of capital itself. In particular, tax laws can be created to punish capital invested in unproductive speculation, or in production processes that pollute the environment, or in factories that prevent unionization. At the same time, other enterprises that offer or create societal benefits — such as new environmentally beneficial technologies — may not be taxed at all for a set period. Finally, some forms of capital investment — such as schools, research centers and infrastructure — will be publicly owned.

The goal here is sustainable economics that is both dynamic and innovative. The view affirms the entrepreneurial spirit, the motivating energy of the market and the right of individuals and collective owners to become wealthy through the private ownership of the capital they have helped to create. And in this view, the perspective on market forces, for socialists, is also unorthodox.

In this context, market forces, in particular the drive for innovation and new profits will be the major devices used to carry out economic restructuring. It should be clear by now that the market is necessary for the practical functioning of any economy. We will go further: we don’t think there are or will be stable economies without markets, except for small tribal hunter-gatherer societies or religious communities like the Amish. Wherever a “command” economy was established on a larger scale, an unofficial “black” market quickly asserted itself as the only efficient way of getting things done.

But we also believe there is no such thing as a “free” market — all markets operate in uneven fields of power that have an impact on transactions between buyer and seller. Nor is a “free” market necessarily desirable, since unrestrained market forces can be tremendously destructive to both social and biological values.

Markets where the fields of power are guided by intelligence, however, can be a dynamic and creative force. But using market laws to direct the economy toward sustainability will never be easy. This is why political democracy is so critical. When new problems arise, laws must be changed or created to reflect new circumstances. These laws need to be crafted democratically so that everyone can have an impact on the direction of the market, rather than just a narrow elite that directs the market for its own exclusive benefit. xliii

The manifesto concludes with the bare outline of Considerations for a New Strategy and Tactics, around the question of who are our friends and who are our enemies. And here we find cyberradicalism's final unorthodoxy. Among capitalists, those trying to create the new information-based economy, especially when they are in conflict with those who are trying to keep the old industrial beast alive, can be our allies.

[H]igh technology entrepreneurs are looking to break away from the old military industrial complex. They hope to make more profits by exploiting the application of environmental and computer technology in the global marketplace, rather than by remaining addicted to the inflated contracts of old, slow-moving, nationally-dominated (and nationally limited) military establishments. They need a vast expansion of education, research and development resources, as well as new infrastructure.xliv

In the traditional language: "Socialists must find new ways for uniting the many to oppose the few." In seeking the unity of the full working class, two sectors are crucial: first, the dispossessed — major victims of the transition to the third wave and those excluded from production altogether — and, second, those engaged in and at the forefront of third wave production and productivity.

This means we place the survival problems of the urban poor, people of color and displaced workers at the top of our list of priorities. But we also take up the social priorities and concerns of the progressive wing of the third wave workers. These include ecology, disarmament, peace and human rights issues, and expanded access to information and education.xlv

There are caveats about third wave progressive capitalists, to be sure. High tech entrepreneurs may temporarily side with reform efforts and progressives, but this doesn't cover over the basic class conflict between them and third wave workers — "the Silicon Valley bigwigs are still notorious union busters and social reactionaries, especially when it comes to their treatment of the lower-skilled, female and nonwhite sectors of their labor force." Nonetheless, the full dimensions of the strategic alliance here are only intimated and will be drawn out more fully elsewhere very shortly.

In sum: "The advent of the third wave does not mean the end of class struggle. But it does mean that the terrain on which class battles are waged has dramatically shifted. We are in a new environment and on the threshold of a new age."xlvi

* * * * *

Chapter 2 of CyberRadicalism: A New Left for a Global Age, "The Cybernetic Revolution and the Crisis of Capitalism," also appears in the premier issue of cyRev and is, in fact, its lead article and provides useful clarification to the Manifesto in considering the development of globalization, the deeper crisis that has resulted, and the nature of the contending classes involved in the struggle. Here Harris and Davidson look at the contributions of Alvin and Heidi Toffler and their three waves perspective in informing the structural crisis of industrial capitalism that began in the 1970's, when the growth of information technologies showed its impact on finance capital as dramatically as it did manufacturing, allowing for the development of a world market and the mobility of capital across the globe. Resulting class divisions have crystallized including the division among capitalists:

One wing… carries over the “maximize-profit-in-the-short-run” values of the second wave, and applies them to both electronic and traditional forms of capital. While unabashedly seizing every public subsidy it can for itself, it takes an anti-government “free market” stance generally. They are fond of quoting Milton Friedman…

The other wing emphasizes creating of new value on a sustainable basis over the unrestrained making of money. It sees itself as information capitalism with a socially responsible human face, with an eye on making its fortunes in the “green industries” of the future. Its current main political representative is Vice President Al Gore, who writes on ecologically sound economics and calls for universal access to the electronic infrastructure. On the business side, elder management guru Peter Drucker defines America as a “post-capitalist” society … xlvii

New technologies have provided for deeper penetration into Third World economies where cheap labor and new markets are seen as solutions for the accumulation crisis. Information technologies have built a “global workshop” complete with a global labor force where, as Friedman and others have pointed out, capital goes where it wants to build anything it desires. "The export of capital is still the key aspect of imperialism, but capital mobility and the threat of denying capital is taking precedence over long-term occupation as a means of control."xlviii

This changing face of imperialism and its impact on Third World societies is also the basis for new strategies and divisions within the left. The persistence of continuing second wave revolutionary upheavals along with very different third wave convulsions help clarify the very different kinds of oppositional response.

In first wave countries the traditional Maoist strategy of peasant based guerrilla warfare still retains considerable validity; throughout the 1970s and 1980s, it even saw various degrees of continued success in El Salvador, Namibia, Nicaragua, and Kampuchea.

But in many newly industrial countries, labor struggles, electoral parties, and community based organizing for local economic growth have become the new focus. This is clearly seen in the experiences of the Workers Party of Brazil, the mass urban struggles in South Africa, the labor upheavals and democracy struggle of South Korea, and in the Party of Revolutionary Democracy in Mexico. Even with the heroic peasant uprising in Chiapas, which has electrified the Mexican left, no one expects Mexico City to be surrounded and taken by a peasant army. Traditional industrial Marxism still finds a firm home in most of these societies, although new concepts on the key importance of democracy, technology and the market play a vital role.

For those countries caught in the middle of transformation the road for revolutionary change has been very difficult. Countries like Colombia and the Philippines have rapidly growing urban industrial sectors, but both have powerful guerrilla armies still well organized in the countryside.xlix

There are new challenges for Marxism and radical theory in America, too, with the two growing class strata that need close attention: the new knowledge workers and the rapidly expanding contingent labor force that includes part-time and temporary workers and home-workers. New methods of organizing, different from traditional trade unions, need to be created to match the ways both strata of workers experience their oppression. And they need to take account of new social movements that need to be understood in their relationship to the crisis in the conditions of production, the movement of feminists, ecologists, and community-based organizations corresponding to the reproduction of labor power, the exploitation of nature, and the pressure on urban space.

The feminist concerns over the control of a women’s body, health care, child care; the struggle of young people for education and culture; the green movement’s battles against pollution, global warming and deforestation; community struggles over housing, industrial location, and drugs; all reflect the cost of capital externalization and a tightening circle of available resources. Since the state controls and regulates the conditions of production, the focuses of these struggles are with local, state and federal government. Traditional Marxists who view point of production organizing as the most valid form of struggle need to rethink long held beliefs. The immediate struggle against capital grows from both economic and social grounds.

The conclusion here leads to a reformulation of the problem:

A revolution in information technologies is creating fundamental changes in how and where people work. It is changing the functions of the laborer, the social combinations of the labor process, and has launched masses of people from one branch of production to another… New technologies have changed the face of capitalism, affecting the economic base, the relations of production, and are impacting political strategy. Our task is to understand the general crisis, its new forms, and begin to develop new strategies for appropriate technologies, radical democracy and sustainable socialism.l

Chapter 3, "Getting Beyond Scarcity: Strategy and Vision in the Information Age," emphasizes the post-scarcity possibilities of a third wave technological society. In Chapter 5, "There Is An Alternative: Market Socialism with Radical Democracy," Davidson draws out a fuller picture of what economic democracy actually looks like, drawing on the ongoing surge of China’s market socialism, the new smaller and more tentative projects in Spain’s Mondragon Cooperatives, Brazil’s Worker’s Party projects, and some American examples, with concrete details such as the following:

Each Economic Democracy plant or workplace is controlled by each respective group of workers, but the firm is not owned by each particular group. The firms are socially owned by the public at large. Because of this public ownership, the local workers are also required to meet the cost of paying into two funds: a depreciation fund, to be used locally by the firm for capital expenditures, and a government-controlled capital investment fund. This latter payment is in the form of a capital assets tax also added to the firm’s costs. In a sense, the workplace is leased by the workers from the government. But what’s left after all the costs are met, the profit, the workers divide among themselves as they see fit. The capital assets taxes that the government takes in is used to finance new enterprises, to maintain and develop infrastructure projects, and other costs spread across the whole of

In the book's third and final section, "Revolutionary Practice in a Non-Revolutionary Period: The Strategy and Tactics of ‘High Road’ Structural Reform," Davidson makes clear the full extent of our current reactionary environment and context, the need to maintain a broad-based alliance in opposition, and the need for doing so in collaboration with "high road" ruling progressives. Chapter 10 provides yet another "New Manifesto" — "on the Strategy and Tactics of Radical Democracy." It is here where the divisions among capitalists receive their sharpest high road-low road statement and the implications for developing strategy is fully laid out, with Davidson citing and reinforcing Dan Swinney and the lessons he draws from the work of his Chicago-based Center for Labor and Community Research.

The “low road” is where business emphasizes short-term profitability and competes with third world labor markets by lowering wages, gutting benefits, breaking unions and ignoring environmental concerns. The “high road” is where business emphasizes long-term sustainability by increasing skills and compensation, worker participation, and environmental safety. lii

"Swinney argues that the real question is not whether to form an alliance with capitalists, but what forces do we bring to an alliance, which capitalists do we seek out and what kind of alliances do we need?" It's well beyond a "lesser evil" approach to proactively promote a strategy for labor and community social movements to transcend the politics of opposition and the limits of advocating only the redistribution of wealth, and instead "take responsibility for the creation of wealth, the starting of companies and the creation of jobs, welcoming the responsibility for good management, productivity and efficiency as well as justice."liii

By making the distinction between the productive and the parasitic sectors among capitalists, "Swinney is directly criticizing the 'anti-corporate' and 'anti-monopoly' strategies that much of the left has held for some time." Swinney's distinction and Davison's summary mark a fundamental division:

Productive capital is mainly engaged in creating new wealth. It makes money by assembling the means to produce the goods and services needed for mass consumption, infrastructure and the reproduction of factories themselves. Parasitic capital is mainly engaged in speculation. It creates no new wealth, but makes money by moving profitable factories from high-wage areas to low-wage areas, speculating on the difference. Or it liquidates profitable businesses in one industry to reinvest in another with a higher short-term rate of return. Or, in its most pure form, it simply gambles in the global derivatives market, betting millions on whether a given currency is going to go up or down in the next hour.

“We recognize the positive aspects of the market and use them, just as we see and oppose the negative aspects,” Swinney explains. “We reject the 'command' as well as the 'neo-liberal' approaches to the economy and government. We are committed to economic democracy and an expanded level of public participation in all aspects of society, and in all aspects of the economy. This is essential for the development of people, as well as the success of our initiatives. It must take place in the firm and community, as well as in government and civil society. The High Road strategy also requires adoption and development of the strategy in local, state and federal government. We must contend for the use of all the power of the state to take the High Road strategy of development.” liv

Lest this sound all too reformist, Davidson reminds the reader: "In classical Marxism-Leninism, making use of these sorts of distinctions among capitalists has been referred to as deploying the 'indirect reserves' or 'indirect allies' of the working class." This, in turn, leads to the question of the difference between strategic and tactical alliances. Swinney's presentation of the Brach Candy campaign involving a major employer on Chicago's West Side that pulled in progressive managers and other high road capitalist forces provides one extended illustration.

"Churches, foundations and other nonprofits are clearly part of the capitalist landscape: they have managers, employees, capital holdings and assets, and services to provide to members, clients and customers… Many of them, such as Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH, are on the left… Thus, some components of the social economy are capable of being strategic as well as tactical allies."lv

The new manifesto concludes with the explanation and call for "Revolutionary Politics for Nonrevolutionary Times." It's not a particularly exciting focus. "The left is often naturally biased toward drawing on the lessons of revolutionary upheavals and victories. The writings on a successful revolution's major turning points and final showdown are often what get translated, circulated and absorbed first. The experiences of the longer, defensive and nonrevolutionary periods are played down or ignored." But that, alas, is where we are; "nonrevolutionary periods, … after all, take up more than 90 percent of history." What are we to do?

Do we mainly subsist on the margins while waiting for the next apocalypse? Or do we fight with a strategy and tactics that prepare our forces to rule, that sustains us economically and develops our forces as a counter-hegemonic power? Do we define victory, not by whether we have won this or that demand, but by whether or not our forces have greater organization, strength and fighting capacity after the battle than they did before the battle began?

Swinney's High Road lists a number of organizations, enterprises and institutions that, albeit in embryonic form, already exist and can begin to serve as a sustainable base for a powerful challenge to the present order. Its importance is precisely because it is not a manifesto for a revolutionary offensive, but for nonrevolutionary conditions. It does not pretend to be the final word on the subject, but it does project some solid working hypotheses on how to gather forces and shape conditions for the radical upsurges of tomorrow. lvi

Chapter 11, "A New Social Contract: The Need for Radical Reforms in the Fight for Jobs," provides a concrete strategic structural reform platform as a way forward in this context, based on a four-point united front campaign consisting of:

  1. Jobs for all who are able and want to work.
  2. A minimum income for all who create value.
  3. Schools for all who want to learn.
  4. Basic health care for all.

These four sets of structural reforms—in employment, income, education and health—form the basis for a new social contract… It differs from the old social contract by basing its features on the needs of a society in transition from an industrial order to a post-industrial, knowledge-based order… The new social contract is addressed precisely to a permanent contraction in industrial jobs at the center of the labor force, along with an expansion of high-tech and unemployable sectors at the top and bottom of the labor force. Its key component is expanding the social infrastructure for the growth of human capital, rather than dampening the rough edges of industrial capital. It provides every person with access to the means for developing their own value-producing skills, talents and interests while making a contribution to society at the same time. lvii

The concluding chapters, on "Terrorism and the Present Danger" (12), "Moving From Protest to Politics: Dumping Bush’s Regime" (13), and "The Road Ahead After 2004: Building a Broad Nonpartisan Alliance vs. Bush and the Far Right" (14), all elaborate that strategy for a broad-based alliance in nonrevolutionary times, with, as noted, the final chapter (15) on "Globalization, Theocracy and the New Fascism: An Analysis of the U.S. Right's Rise to Power & What Can Be Done About It" spelling out the full dimensions of that alliance.

cyRev and the Community Technology Movement

While CyberRadicalism: A New Left for a Global Age expands upon the Third Wave Manifesto in one direction, cyRev, the journal, does so in another. To be sure, among the twelve pieces in the first issue, along with the introduction and the two articles that serve as the first two chapters of the book, the journal contains other articles you might expect would supplement CyberRadicalism. Davidson reviews Robert Reich's The Work of Nations for its strengths, classically assessing the wealth of a society's economy not by adding up what its business class owns, but by adding up the value its working class and small producers can impart to their products in the process of production, emphasizing the symbolic-analytic services of the knowledge workers who make such a major contribution in this capacity. Then Reich's shortcomings: "In the end, Reich's book reveals two things about the top policy makers of the Clinton administration. The first is that they are smart enough to realize the true depth of the crisis of latter-day capitalism. The second is that they lack the courage and the vision to mobilize the main victims of the established order. That task — carrying the required radical reconstruction of society through to the end — remains for more capable hands." Evan Handler's review of The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, underscores the environmentalist dimension of Third Wave radicalism and some sensible proposals to deal with its problems: the biosphere is being destroyed, possibly irreversibly, yet the same forces that created the problem, both the market and state intervention, are capable of providing solutions if intelligence can prevail over greed: pollution permits, reusable containers, the elimination of non-degradable toxics from industrial processes, green taxes.

The remaining seven essays, however, are not in this mold at all. There's an essay from the iconoclastic John Perry Barlow — retired Wyoming cattle rancher, former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, self-proclaimed Republican and Libertarian, author of "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace" and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, something like the ACLU of cyberspace, that provides an intriguing conception of property appropriate to the digital world and otherwise serves to illustrate a new inclusion in the ever-growing broad-based high road alliance. And the rest of the articles are detailed, in-the-trenches contributions from and about the community technology movement.

Davidson's own contribution here, "Using E-Mail and Fax Modems as Tools for Social Change," is indicative of the hands-on dive into actively using and promoting technology for social change that Third Wave radicalism talks about. Along with Sam Kritikos's "Surfing the Internet: A Political Guide for Beginners," Jillaine Smith on "Building Organizations with Electronic Conferencing," and "SoliNet: Electronic Conferencing for the Trade Union Movement" by Marc Belanger, cyRev #1 is a veritable technology how-to training guide for community organizers and nonprofit activists, circa 1994. Along with Abdul Alkalimat's "Information Empowerment and Democracy in the 21st Century" speech for the Freedom of Information Day Forum at the Chicago Public Library in March, one of his many contributions to the movement, and the CTC manifesto, renamed "Empowering the Info-Poor: The Community Computing Center Movement," the issue provides a broad perspective on and firm grounding in the community technology movement as it was developing in the early-mid 1990's.lviii

This trend, including material of this sort, continues through the life of the journal, though never as intensely and expansively as in the first issue. Second issue coverage of the Dallas Computer Literacy Program emphasizes its alliance of information workers, third wave firms, and the youth and churches in the inner city. It's a sophisticated presentation about what CTCs are and can do and how to build them, down to the inclusion of the North Texas Free-Net as a major partner helping to develop the public computing infrastructure for North Texas. "Labor Goes Online to Organize, Communicate, and Strike. Workers On The Net, Unite!" by Montieth Illingworth of Information Week, is a follow-up piece to the one on SoliNet, the Solidarity Computer Conferencing Network Marc Belanger runs for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and details the ways in which union organizing in the U.S. as well as Canada is beginning to embrace technology tools for their organizing work, including the development of various LaborNets, by both the AFL-CIO and the community-oriented Institute for Global Communications as well as efforts to organize home-based part-time contingency workers. "The High Tech Sector: Conditions & Opportunities" by the High Tech Committee of the National Organizing Committee opens the door to the world of radical organizing that was taking place during this period among that sector of workers.

There are other in-the-trenches pieces on both labor and technology and on CTCs including a report on organizing home-based electronic sweatshop workers by IGC's LaborNet and one by Toni Stone on "Kids, Computer Learning, and the Game of Solitaire," all of this coming together in Jerry Harris's sum-up in issue #5 in 1997, "Cyber Activists Are Getting Organized: CTCNET & Labor Tech Conferences": "Both of these conferences show that cyberactivists are well on their way to using the new technologies to organize, educate, and build a new movement. Participants not only understood how to use computers, but the key issues, politics and analysis necessary to put progressives squarely in the coming battles for social justice."lix

Carl Davidson's relationship to all this in-the-trenches activism wasn't restricted to studying, editing, and writing about it. In the middle of the first decade of the new millennium he set the record straight about his own work: "My main organizing over the past five or more years has been in the community technology movement. We've built CTCNet-Chicago, a federation of about 75 CTCs in low-income neighborhoods, plus I worked on the national board of CTCNET, where we have 1500 CTCs across the country." His CTC work includes developing programs with ex-offenders fighting for job training, and with other more typically characteristic work like helping build antiwar mass actions, he makes note of the new media and technology venues where they take place. "It's also true that I've been speaking up on Indymedia defending our Peace & Justice Voters 2004 registration and GOTV [Get Out the Vote] drive against its anarchist and left critics."

Davidson invites people to check out his community technology activism in addition to his cyRev and cyberRadicalism writings: "If you're interested, look it up on …, and" The latter web site, Networking for Democracy, where the cyRev archives reside, was in fact founded by Davidson in 1988 as part of an initiative to teach computer skills to Chicago-area low-income teenagers. The link he provides pictures the PAC /TechTrain Learning Center, a partnership between the Prison Action Committee and Networking for Democracy where ex-offenders and prisoners learn computer repair and maintenance by recycling old computers. Repaired units are then distributed to community organizations in the inner city. There are links to its High School Curriculum, Afterschool Workshops, Recycling and Training, Prices, Perspective, and its wider work with CTCs.

Beyond this, Davidson's contributing work with CTCNet national, on its founding board of directors, as it transformed from a grant-supported project housed at Education Development Center just outside of Boston into an independent, member-run 501(c)3 is reflected in his election and inclusion among four white and seven African-American regional leaders from all across the country (see the board photo from page five of the hard copy of the summer-fall 2001 Community Technology Review). It's Carl's quote that memorializes CTCNet found Antonia Stone on the still-existing Toni Stone Innovative Initiative Awards page.

CTCNet Chicago was one of the national organization's most active and innovative area organizing forces. In a review of its work, "Closing The Resource Gap: 1-2-3 Advocacy to Improve Illinois Communities through Telecommunications, in Three Stages of Regulatory Competition, 1997-2001" in the Spring '02 issue of the Community Technology Review, Layton Olson wrote about its formation, following state community technology activism around Baby Bell telecommunications corporate mergers, led by members of CTCNet in many capacities, and the establishment of a $4.5 million Illinois Community Technology Fund for a three year program to support community technology centers:

In the summer of 2000, after the national CTCNet conference in Atlanta, several members decided to incorporate a Chicago Chapter that would include advocacy for new resources for centers as part of its mission. Led by CTCNet national board members and holding meetings at Charles Hayes Family Investment Center, CTCNet Chicago has 35 members, with committees on Professional Development, Resources and Advocacy, and Secretariat services housed at the Policy Research and Action Group, a four-university consortium, staffed at Loyola University.  The Advocacy Committee, led by parties at Erie Neighborhood House, Chicago Jobs Council, and Metropolitan Planning Council, launched an effort in spring 2001 to increase funding for community technology centers and IT training, with a proposal for $9 million.

Other resources and advocacy activities developed during fall 2000-spring 2001 include:

Additionally, Olson's follow-up in the spring of '03 covered its work with a state coalition to build a statewide organization to promote digital literacy, using $1.3 million from the state's Community Technology Fund to raise another $2.7 million with a goal to provide technical support and direct services to directors, trainers, tech staff, and volunteers in CTC programs in five multi-county service areas, and expansive plans for the remainder of the year.

The account of "Regional Policy Action: CTCNet Chicago/Illinois Tech Day" by Debra Walker Johnson, the first full-time director of CTCNet Chicago, and later reports on local activism, in "Community Networking: Movements in the Field and at the Radical Center," by Association for Community Networking President and CTCNet Chicago Director Michael Miranda testify to the ongoing vitality of the metropolitan area-regional network.

Carl Davidson's active involvement with CTCNet and the community technology movement lost intensity well before both began to disintegrate later in the decade, well before he left Chicago and resettled in his home town in western Pennsylvania, outside Pittsburgh. His recent comment about CTCNet and, one might even suppose, of the community technology movement itself, that "its time has come and gone," bespeaks the experience of one who has witnessed the passing of many organizations and movement threads. Yet Chicago continues to be one of the local community leaders in the reconstituting community technology arena. And when the Chicago Digital Access Alliance,, held its Digital Excellence conference in October last year, DexCon2010, Carl Davidson was one of the three activists given special recognition.lxi

To the degree community technology has been a distinct movement, Carl Davidson is an excellent representative of much of its legacy, both technologically and politically. He's an accomplished user. Issue #7 of cyRev notes and links to an interview with him about cyberMarxism on Changesurfer Radio in 2000 (though note that the streaming audio and mp3 file have a new location). One could still find Carl on YouTube almost two years after addressing the 2009 convention of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. He's been editor of the weekly CCDSLinks enewsletter (content and production) since August 2010. Carl takes pride in his technology skills. He's an avid blogger and, among the many autobiographical notes one can find online, he frequently notes his experience as a webmaster for among other causes, Progressives for Obama, an independent left-progressive voice in the campaign, now renamed as Progressive America Rising (still at

Solidarity Economy, the Committees of Correspondence, and the WTB Network

On Friday, January 1, Carl Davidson blogged out the "New Year Greeting: Getting Ready for 2010":

...At this point, we have two interconnected mass democratic tasks. Building the left-progressive pole inside and outside the Dems with groups like PDA [Progressive Democrats for America,] and other independent forums, and dividing the GOP right to smash the Teabaggers and their allies. Neither is easy, but starting with a clear head helps a lot.

...To be precise, our strategy here is to aim the main blow at low-road neoliberal finance capital and its right wing populist allies, allying with high road neoKeynesian initiatives at the top, while developing the left-center coalition among labor, minorities, women and youth at the base.

We do that in the form of expanding our PDA group; its platform is Out Now, HR 676, Green Jobs, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), Carbon Tax and Debt Relief. Within that, among the advanced, a few of us do revolutionary socialist education that targets neo-Keynesianism as well. We work with Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, and that way we grow CCDS in size, too.

That's the political and class substance of it. Where Obama stands, and where we stand in relation to him, depends on the ebb and flow. We oppose him where he's wrong, support him where he's right, and defend him versus the racist onslaughts of the right.

So yes, I'm suggesting that people elsewhere do likewise — although I'm well aware that conditions vary, and adjustments are required.

If one of the left antiwar coalitions thinks they can pull off a march on DC, we'll probably rent a bus or two, fill them, and go to it. If we do, we'll try to network horizontally with others like ourselves, perhaps even meet after the march for a confab of some sort.

But we are not interested in wasting energy or resources getting into national pissing matches and intrigues over slogans and speakers. We'll simply bring the slogans that make sense to us. But in the end, the antiwar forces need to be reoriented and rebuilt at the base, in alliance with the growth in class struggle activity around the economy.

That's what we're doing, and have been doing for some time. Other approaches may point to the future as well, and I'm wide open to hearing about them.lxii

At the bottom of the blog piece, there's an extended biographical note that includes a summary of his past political and cyberMarxist involvements and, for the present, a link to and a note that, as a leader in the U.S. socialist movement, he's serving as a national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

There's a core document for the Solidarity Economy, "Where to Begin — Organizing in the Present for the Sake of the Future"; an early version from 2003 can be found on the Networking for Democracy site, at its justice page. It opens with (#1) a Brief Outline of the World's Main Features and Prospects whose conditions, following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the world’s political and economic systems' expansion and collapse, have led to a new global economy, described very similarly to the world of the Third Wave's Manifesto, albeit with only passing mention of technology. It has, on the one hand "heightened reactionary change, unleashing new dangers and realities of war and repression, of increasing global inequality, of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, of mass movements of religious fanaticism and intolerance, of ecological devastation and the globalized plunder of the weak by the strong," yet it has also, on the other, "set the contours for progressive change in our time, change in the direction of expanded human rights and participatory democracy, of equity and equal rights among nations and peoples, of scientific and technological revolution, and of growing economic and social justice for all." lxiii

The significant emergent features of the new world are: a Global Capitalist Class and Multipolar World, Global Crises and a Widening North-South Divide, Open Hegemonism in the U.S Ruling Elite, Theocratic Fascism as a Danger to Peace and Democracy, and Dynamic Economies Combining the Market with National and Democratic Planning and Initiatives.

The work being done by market-oriented socialists with economic democracy in many countries and movements is singled out as notable, in China, in South Africa, and in the coming to power of the Workers Party in Brazil, in the thriving regional alliances of popular and worker controlled industries in both Spain and Italy. As with cyberradicalism, "the positive importance of the market is a critical point of demarcation between us and some others on the left."

Notable is (#2) the Rise of Global Opposition to many of the reactionary policies arising from the crises of global capital internationally and domestically. The Solidarity Economy segments the business community into adversaries, tactical allies, and strategic allies, including the “third sector” or “social economy” of capital, the nonprofit and public sectors, which can be longer term allies.

In looking more closely at (#3) the State of the U.S. Left, fragmented and weak, with parties and organizations of the left, in the main, marginal and sectarian, there are nonetheless periodic surges, often magnificent, in the spontaneous movement, as recently around the War on Iraq, where thousands of veteran leaders in the trenches of the day-to-day struggle who are recognized experts in their fields, intuitively share a vision for profound democratic change, and have enormous collective potential. Yet they remain dispersed, unorganized and ineffective; no organization is successfully galvanizing, consolidating and organizing the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of young, middle-aged, and older people who are looking at deeper systemic questions, and looking for systemic alternatives. The conclusion:

The moment begs for a truly revolutionary organization in the U.S., communicating with like-minded groups elsewhere, that can create the mass formations and alliances, that can gather these many parts into a powerful whole — an organization, along with its allies, capable of contending for power in our society, and capable of wielding power and transforming — in radically democratic fashion — our communities; companies; local, state, and federal governments; and major institutions.

The end of the core document is section #4, A New Party? Note the question mark.

We want to be clear. We are not calling for forming a new party; the conditions—in theory, in program and in practice—are not yet ready for that goal. Yet we also want to be clear that such a goal is necessary and desirable, and we want to help achieve it.

At one point, in response to a critical review of CyberRadicalism in 2005, Davidson wrote: "…we're actually, in many ways, rather orthodox in our Marxism and Leninism, with the notable exception that we try to apply it to a new world of high-tech and globalization, and to a country where the current conditions are non-revolutionary. Dogmas from other times or revolutionary periods won't do. If you want to pin old labels on us, 'post-Maoist, neo-Bukharinite, Gramscian revisionists' would probably work. But we like to think we've created a new deviation of our own, 'Cybermarxism.'"lxiv

And, good Leninist that he is, the prerevolutionary formation for the party is spelled out in the Solidarity Economy core document here, so let's give some attention to its particulars by way of drawing to a conclusion, or at least an update:

The pre-party organization called for "must contend with the ruling elites around all the vital issues of the day, around programs of economic and political democracy, justice, and solidarity in the market place, the state, and civil society," and do all the other broad-based alliance building "critical work in the labor movement, in educational and governmental institutions, in businesses and business associations, in the environmental justice movement as well as the mainstream environmental organizations, etc." — we'll want to give some attention to these outreach and integrative organizations and activities, yet it is the vanguard, party-component that is also notable here, both for being one of the first times and places it's talked about, and in the sentiments and sensibilities as well as all the details of how its spelled out:

On the other hand, our leadership group will by definition be small and professional, open and discreet, “red” and “grey,” and always persistent and patient.  We must operate as a collective that has growing visibility, but also growing depth that involves many who can’t or shouldn’t be visible.  We will be judged by what we leverage and accomplish.

...We will also have a distinctive organizational and leadership style. It will embrace the complexity of our objectives together with the most rigorous approach possible to intellectual life—research, debate, polemics, leadership, popular education and popular exposure. We will systematically pursue the education and training of those who join our ranks and support our approach.  In a polite but firm way, we must develop an intolerance for the superficiality, sectarianism, dogmatism, amateurishness, and narrowness that has characterized the left (revolutionary, democratic, and utopian) for decades… 

The organization must consolidate its membership and leadership around a common theoretical, programmatic, and organizational vision that is superior in all respects to those we oppose and seek to replace. It must combat and reject methods and standards that are marginal, narrow, and unprofessional. We must sharply raise the prestige of those in pursuit of fundamental change so that even our bitterest opponents will begrudgingly have to respect our intellectual and organizational depth and capacity.

Pretty heady and serious stuff, this is.

(#5) – The Proposal — and it is here where technology re-enters:

Our first step is to create a virtual network, through web sites and egroups, of those who define and share our key principles and who will systematically engage in the intellectual and practical work required to develop a comprehensive programmatic framework. This framework must profoundly reflect both the realities of social, economic, and political life in our society as well as offer clear and effective short and long term solutions. Such a combination is required as the intellectual foundation for mobilizing masses of people, as well as recruiting leaders and supporters to our ranks.

There are two major components here (it's interesting to look at the RTF version and the tracking feature to see the final edits between Davidson and Dan Swinney in 2003 and 2004lxv): the broad based alliance web sites and egroups, and the smaller pre-party cadre. Regarding the former, the lead organizing site:

The Web as a Collective Organizer. The Justice for All web site — Seeking the Broadest Participation: This virtual network will have a public web site: a “think tank without walls” having a few articles and debates open to any who wish to visit, with a greater range of articles and discussions to those who will pay a modest subscription fee. This can be called something like the “Justice for All” web site. The reach of this site should be as broad as possible and be the open face of our efforts. Anyone in the US or the international community can subscribe to this site, write articles, or offer commentary—of course with the guidance of editors to insure high quality exchange.

This is, right down to its "About Us" mission description as "an online 'think tank without walls' dedicated to critical debate and analysis for the mass movements of today." The edit from the original "Where to Begin" section here now reads: The Web as a Collective Organizer. The website - Seeking the Broadest Participation.

As to the pre-party formation organizing leadership:

The Where to Begin Network—a Leadership Core

The other form of communication will be a closed e-group only for those who share the core assumptions of this paper, Where to Begin, who regularly pay dues as described below, and who regularly contribute (at least on a quarterly basis) to the site in the form of an article, a polemic, a debate, or commentary. Members of the WTB Network must have active and regular engagement in building the intellectual life and program of our network. In this closed e-group, our network will critically discuss the theory and practice of our movement and provide a basis that defines our differences as well as points of unity with other political currents. Our shared objective is to develop a detailed program for structural reform in our society, as well as a socialist program for the US. This network will be US-based — certainly shaped by the work of the international community, but have a particular responsibility in bringing about fundamental change in the US. This will be a relatively small but increasingly disciplined network that will also organize and recruit others to this effort. The main product for this smaller network, for the time being, is the building of the larger and more public web site.

Eight additional paragraphs detail the rules and guidelines for and sentiments behind the WTB network, its selective recruitment of "those who share our key assumptions to insure a relatively high level of unity as a foundation for common work and debate. None of us has the time or interest in intellectual or practical activity that leads nowhere." There will be recruitment, too, of "those who already have circles of influence, including their own professional work as well as their participation in various organizations, movements, coalitions, and institutions."

There are lots of expectations for members that are spelled out: to engage fully through reading, writing, and testing the ideas and concepts in the course of work, to fully use the positive aspects of the market place and contend effectively with capital in that arena as well as in the struggle for the state, to develop democracy in society and in the struggle itself, to contribute a minimum of $10 a month, an additional $10 for every $50,000 income increment. ("Our future depends on the creation of a pool of resources that will permit staffing, technology, and broader communications.")

The are additional descriptions of how the WTB network will emphasize the Importance of Study (with a particular emphasis on including younger activists and leaders, the next generation), Confidentiality and Security (many members don’t want to be individually known for professional, political, or personal reasons), and the development of a Leading Body (an editorial board to manage the web site and debate, providing the diversity and skill needed to sustain confidence in the quality of this effort). There are time frame considerations and a concluding exhortation:

We really have no other choice except to make this effort. We can’t be comfortable in our critique of the failings of others in this period or in other generations unless we are willing to step forward with our own creation. We are uniquely privileged in the distance from the dangers that threaten others in the world who share our values, dreams, and struggle. Continuing individual contributions without an effort to build collective strength is a luxury we can no longer justify to ourselves, our friends, our comrades, or the next generation.

Are you in?lxvi

If Solidarity Economy is the broad-based effort, another wing of the (pre)Party and a part of the Where to Begin Network is the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, most usefully seen in its relationship to WTBNet perhaps as something like a Venn diagram overlap.

However that may be, the structure of the Committees, the CCs, is quite public and laid out and bared for all to see. The home page links to all sorts of newsletters, publications, and information about regional development, local chapters, and leadership committees. There's extensive coverage of the organization's 6th National Convention in San Francisco from May 2009, reports, a slide show and videos that gives some textured feel to the event, as does Carl Davidson's presentation on YouTube, as noted above. According to the CCDS Mobilizer conference issue, as of that time, there were 370 members broken down by states, areas of states, and some state constellations, 179 of whom were in arrears; 11 chapters with Local Area Contacts (in Charleston, SC; Southern and Northern California; and Mid-Valley, OR; Washington DC/MD/VA; Lafayette, IN; Chicago, IL; and Louisville, KY; Boston, MA [Greater]; New York Metro; and Eastern PA), and four Regional Coordinators (midwest, south, east, and west). The report in the winter 2011 Mobilizer on the December biannual meeting includes notes on the concern about "the critical decline in membership and financial resources." Despite the problems, Carl Davidson's involvement and efforts have been tireless.

There should be enough here to see that, all in all, it's an extraordinarily impressive span of time, territory, testimony, and technology that Carl Davidson covers, however one assesses the politics. Davidson's role in all of this as writer and editor, activist and ambassador, teacher and technologist helps set a major stopping point at the intersection of technology and democracy — and political theory. But only for a while. As Carl might remind us, his blog, at, is, after all, fittingly named "Keep On Keepin' On."

The Final Word: On Manuel Castells and the Economy, Society, and Culture — and Politics — of the Information Age

The last article in the last issue of cyRev is a review of Manuel Castells' Network Society Trilogy, by Steve Fuller. It's a curious piece and leads to the more in-depth considerations that follow.


i The dissertation is available at the link at the bottom of

ii These include "On the Fall [2009] Community Technology Conference Trail from Boston to New York City," "Review: Premier Issue of the Journal of New Organizing," and "From DexCon2010 in Chicago to Media Reform in Boston This April — Community Technology Organizing on the Local-National Continuum."

iii Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS, NY: Vintage Books, 1973, fully available on the Next Left Notes web site,, p. 5.

iv ibid., pp. 133, 150, 152.

v ibid., p. 155.

vi ibid., pp. 155-56.

vii ibid., pp. 165, 166.

viii ibid., p. 174.

ix ibid., p. 188.

x ibid., pp. 209, 210.

xi ibid., p. 229.

xii ibid., pp. 240, 273-274.

xiii ibid., p. 6.

xiv Robert Meeropol, An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey, NY: St. Martin's Press, 2003, p. 37.

xv Max Elbaum, Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che, New York and London: Verso, 2002.

xvi ibid., pp. 4, 60, 61.

xvii ibid., pp. 61, 62.

xviii ibid., p. 200. The analysis here differs from the one offered by Elbaum, who, in places such as this, tries to suggest that Davidson was somehow an exception to the Guardian characteristics he so usefully sketches out rather than a reflection and contributor to them. In his characterization here, "a lengthy series in the paper on Trotskyism by Carl Davidson — subsequently published as a Guardian pamphlet —reprised a one-sided, Stalinist version of communist history," there is a footnote that simply cites the series, as if that in itself offered an explanation (note 31, p. 200). Curious.

xix ibid., p. 108.

xx ibid., pp. 222, 295.

xxi ibid., pp. 300-01.

xxii Carl Davidson, Ivan Handler, and Jerry Harris, "The Promise and Peril of the Third Wave: Socialism and Democracy for the 21st Century," cyRev: a Journal of Cybernetic Revolution, Sustainable Socialism & Radical Democracy, v. 1, No. 1, 1994; also in Davidson and Harris, CyberRadicalism: A New Left for a Global Age, Chicago: Changemaker Publications, 2005, p. 6.

xxiii Carl Davidson and Jerry Harris, "Introduction," cyRev, v. 1, No. 1, summer 1994,

xxiv Davidson and Harris, CyberRadicalism, op. cit., p. 6.

xxv Carl Davidson and Jerry Harris, "Globalization, Theocracy and the New Fascism: An Analysis of the U.S. Right's Rise to Power & What Can Be Done About It," in ibid., p. 299.

xxvi ibid., p. 301.

xxvii Davidson, Handler, and Harris, op. cit., p. 25.

xxviii ibid., p. 15.

xxix ibid., pp. 15, 16.

xxx ibid., pp. 17-18.

xxxi ibid., p. 7.

xxxii ibid., p. 19.

xxxiii ibid., pp. 10-11.

xxxiv ibid., p. 12.

xxxv ibid., p. 13.

xxxvi ibid., p. 14.

xxxvii ibid., p. 18.

xxxviii ibid., p. 19.

xxxix ibid., p. 13.

xl ibid., p. 22.

xli ibid., p. 23.

xlii ibid., pp. 23-24.

xliii ibid., pp. 26-27.

xliv ibid., p. 29.

xlv ibid., p. 28.

xlvi ibid., pp. 29-30.

xlvii Jerry Harris and Carl Davidson, "The Cybernetic Revolution and the Crisis of Capitalism," in Davidson and Harris, CyberRadicalism, op. cit., p. 41.

xlviii ibid., p. 44.

xlix ibid., p. 44.

l ibid., pp. 47-48.

li Carl Davidson, "There Is An Alternative: Market Socialism with Radical Democracy — Some Notes on Reading After Capitalism by David Schweickart," in Davidson and Harris, CyberRadicalism, op. cit., p. 73.

lii Carl Davidson, "A New Manifesto on the Strategy and Tactics of Radical Democracy: A Review of Dan Swinney's Building the Bridge to the High Road," in Davidson and Harris, CyberRadicalism, op. cit., p. 210.

liii ibid., pp. 212, 213.

liv ibid., pp. 213,214.

lv ibid., pp. 214, 217.

lvi ibid., pp. 218.

lvii Carl Davidson, "A New Social Contract: The Need for Radical Reforms in the Fight for Jobs," in Davidson and Harris, CyberRadicalism, op. cit., pp. 225-26.

lviii In the interest of full disclosure, although I had looked through past issue of cyRev previously, it was only recently that I discovered my essay in the first issue. Though I was not asked for permission or even informed, I'm pleased to have it included.

lix Jerry Harris, "Cyber Activists Are Getting Organized: CTCNET & Labor Tech Conferences," cyRev #5, fall-winter 1997, at Activists/CyberActivists1.htm.

lx Layton Olson, "Closing The Resource Gap: 1-2-3 Advocacy to Improve Illinois Communities through Telecommunications, in Three Stages of Regulatory Competition, 1997-2001" Community Technology Review, winter-spring 2002, pp. 39-41

lxi See the conference organizers' news release about the awards and honorees as well as the author's report "From DexCon2010 in Chicago to Media Reform in Boston This April — Community Technology Organizing on the Local-National Continuum."

lxii At

lxiii Carl Davidson, Dan Swinney, et al, "Where to Begin — Organizing in the Present for the Sake of the Future," at The early version from 2003 on the Networking for Democracy site is at

lxiv The critical review by Carl Boice on and Davidson's response can both be found at

lxv To be found, as per note 63 above, at

lxvi All preceding quotes are from Davidson, Swinney, et al, "Where to Begin — Organizing in the Present for the Sake of the Future," op. cit.

About the Author

Peter Miller is a long-time community technology activist. He was the founding network director of the Community Technology Centers Network, founded and directed the CTC VISTA Project that became the Transmission Project for its first five years, and founded and edited the Community Technology Review from 1994-2005.