RPS/2044 by Michael Albert

First published by Morning Star on 10th November 2017

Back from the future: a guide for revolutionary change now

A review of RPS/2044 by Michael Albert

It is 2044 and the people of the United States have begun building a new society. Through the testimonies of the revolutionaries, we are shown how the Revolution for a Participatory Society blossomed from the very sorts of campaigns that we are all part of today. Rather than simply striving for justice, equality, peace and a liveable environment in small local groups, the American people have overcome their differences, and come together to release an unstoppable wave of progress.

Much like Michael Albert’s outstanding work on Parecon and Z, RPS/2044 is at once both a catalyst for change and a reflection of the role that each of us are already playing within that change. Like many others Albert has long had the ability to simplify very complex systems of inequality, and in doing so unveil their most regressive absurdities. But what really sets him apart is that he goes beyond just complaining about how terrible things are today. He has the courage to build models so that the rest of us have a starting point to work from. And RPS/2044 is exactly that.

In this oral history reaching back from the future, the revolutionaries talk us through the problems that beset our campaigns today; the cynicism and self-doubt we all struggle with; the overwhelming shadow cast by the establishment over public debate; the terrifying brutality of the paramilitary state; the capitalist homogenisation of rational and creative thinking; and our seemingly suicidal tendency to turn on one another over the minutest of theoretical differences. It holds a mirror up to the reader and asks us to critically analyse our own doctrinal positions; it asks us to recognise our own areas of pragmatism and intransigence; but most importantly it asks us to imagine the world we all want to live in and demands that we start planning how to reach it.

In my own journey through RPS/2044 I have been reminded of how a lot of the writing coming from the progressive left has a tendency toward being overly academic and impenetrable. And I am just as guilty of that as anyone. Equally, even our literature tends toward depressing dystopias instead of inspiring utopias. But Michael Albert stands apart. He may not always be right, but what he does is take us to the next stage. He lays out a model for the future and then invites us to discuss it, to even pick it apart if that is what is required. The message to me is clear; None of us are happy with where we are, but if we haven’t agreed where we are going, how are we all going to get there? Like Parecon before it, Michael Albert’s new work will provoke people from all sides, both positively and negatively. I am sure that with time this book will be argued over, disagreed with, vilified, championed, cherished and quoted. I for one won’t easily forget it.

RPS/2044 by Michael Albert is published by Z Communications, price £11.