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How to Use This History

Then, Now, and How is not a linear or monolithic narrative. The Index/Contents page is in the form of a grid or patchwork that can be read horizontally, vertically, or at random. So you can let curiosity be your guide, and create your own narrative.

One dimension of the grid is chronological: Then (2018), Now (2118) and How (the decades of struggle between). The other is topical. The dozen or so topics present the major problems facing humanity in 2018.

Read vertically, Then presents a history of capitalism's final phase which was engendering ecological catastrophes, increasing economic inequalities, endemic wars and civil wars, and every form of retrogression to more primitive forms of society, including the revival of slavery, debt peonage, mass unemployment, obscene waste and luxury, tyrannical governments, loss of political freedoms, degradation of intellectual life, religious obscurantism, and oppression and dehumanization of women, racial minorities, generating millions upon millions of refugees fleeing ecological catastrophes, wars, and political tyranny.

Read vertically, How records a whole series of different struggles among women, working people, oppressed minorities, peasant agriculturalists … coming together, connecting on an intersectional basis, as well as on an international basis, with for example employees/customers/victims of exploitative multinational corporations coming together to focus their mass people power against the concentrated financial power of a few billionaires. It includes the struggles of indigenous peoples, victims of climate catastrophes such as droughts and floods, agriculturalists, forest peoples, all uniting to destroy the carbon-fueled, debt-driven form of industrial agriculture imposed by Monsanto and other agribusinesses and replace it with sustainable localized permaculture. Indeed, these solutions emerged as survival mechanisms when the whole structure of supermarket-based food distribution and corporate production collapsed during the world depression that followed financial catastrophe. It includes the beginnings of people-to-people exchanges of use-values (food, clothing, …) arising spontaneously to replace monopolized capitalist distribution systems such as Amazon and Wal-Mart; of actual human exchanges replacing monopolies that under capitalism masqueraded as “markets.”

Read vertically, Now presents a picture of a plausible future world that has emerged from titanic struggles, making the best use of technologies and forms of self-organization discovered in diverse mass efforts to fix a broken planet and bring about justice and equality in a world-economy based on sharing and caring, replacing competition, profit and domination as the motors of economic activity. Solar energy and other renewables have brought democratically managed, decentralized grids for light and power to communities all over the world, while nearly eliminating the greenhouse effect caused by burning fossil fuels. Forests have been planted wherever appropriate and are absorbing excess carbon from the atmosphere, bringing along shade, renewing the soil, and providing forest products for use as building and other raw materials, furniture, and food. Working people decide the major economic and ecological questions, using computer networks and blockchain technologies to express their choices on what to produce and how, on the basis of detailed plans worked up by think tanks (“planning factories”). Communities are self-governed from below on many levels – geographical (neighborhood, city, region and beyond); occupational (factory, farm, scientific, transport, education, health); cultural groups (language. ethnic, faith/spirituality, artistic). People have the right to choose their identities and to reside in whatever communities they prefer. Nothing about this future is implausible, either scientifically or politically.

Thus, read vertically, Then, Now and How presents an authoritative picture of the non-viability of high-tech, financialized capitalist civilization (Then); the viability and sustainability of our present democratic and egalitarian societies based on solar power, agroecology, and self-organization (Now); and the roads that led from the death throes of capitalism to the emergence of caring and sharing societies through the convergence of intersectional and international social movements (How).

Reading horizontally, we present a series of critical problems that plagued humans living under a decaying capitalist order in the early 21st century (Then) and sketch out the ways in which they were resolved and transcended (How), arriving at today's early-22nd-century democratic, egalitarian and just societies (Now).

So, dig in!

textbook.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/18 10:42 by admin