What is EconomicDemocracy.org "all about"??
An Overview:
(Link to the Webcast article itself immediately follows)

Before you jump in to read the main article article this Q/A will orient you.

Q: Is this a site for "radical" rather than "reformist" change?

A: As someone said, or should have said, "the revolution is an evolution" -- there is a gray line between the two. However, it is assumed that EconomicDemocracy.org's readership understands the that institutions (not people) lie at the root of problems. You may replace a CEO with a less corrupt CEO, but if you leave corporations as is, externalizing costs and corrupting influences will continue (but you knew that, of you would be at this site..)

Q: So you're one of those Z type folks analyzing the evils of modern corporate capitalism?

A: No exactly. Understanding what's wrong with today's world is only a first step.

Q: Ah! So you're about offering visions of what a good society could look like, like Parecon (Participatory Economics)?

A: Indirectly, yes, but the focus of EconomicDemocracy.org is on a third aspect. Not "what's wrong today" and not "what are positive alternatives we are for" but a third question: "how do we move from here to there?" including specific strategies, tactics, and action plans.

Q: Cool! But I hear you are somewhat related to the second question too, since you believe in "let's build the alternative," yes?

A: This is true. There are many reasons for this. Not only is it less depressing and more exciting to "start building alternatives today" but, it is also about setting our sights higher than merely "let's slow down the damage the present system does" (though struggles that do that in parallel have our and deserve everyone's support).

Another reason is strategic: it is not just that we need to build alternatives so they will be there after our "corporate capitalist", corporate-feudalist order is dismantled. Rather, sometimes the best way to achieve the dismantling of corporate power is by building alternatives, thus giving people a true choice, withdrawing support from corporations, and helping reduce, then eliminate our economic dependence on corporations -- eliminating economic gun pointed at us.

Q: You also talk about a "third modality of activism" -- please explain

A: That's somewhat fancy language for looking at the types of activism we engage in as follows. There are actions which amount to "petitioning those in power" like writing a letter to Congress. Another is "pressuring those in power" also known as "raising the costs on elites" when corporations and governments are pressured with boycotts, civil disobedience, etc. There are obviously overlaps, and a march might fit somewhere in between these two.

A third option also exists: don't just ask, and don't just demand, but DO it. The Free Software movement for example didn't just ask Microsoft for changes to allow programmers and users to change, examine, and modify and share code -- changes knew Microsoft would -- never grant, and if granted, could be taken away at any time. Rather, the movement build up a large body of free software, and a community to nurture it, that is now part of the commons. It wasn't given to us, and can't be taken away (though subject to legal and other attacks as is everything) -- furthermore, it's under more or less direct democratic control, rather than controlled and owned by a corporation or government agency claiming to act on our behalf.

Another example: Independent Media Centers (IMCs) along with internet stations, "pirate" broadcasters, shortwave broadcasters, etc, are not working mainly to try to pressure the corporate media to significantly change its stripes (which would be impossible given its advertiser-based, shareholder-owned, for-profit, etc, nature) -- rather, they are creating pieces of what will become the new, demoratic media (and soon, democratic mass-media) landscape.

So this third mode of action might be called "changing facts on the ground by Building It ourselves" -- ideally, in a way that permanently changes power relations and helps make for a more level playing field in all future struggles.

Q: Heady stuff! Before my brain gets full, I think you indicated you have one more philosophical or strategic point to make, before I get to ask you "the technology question" you get asked all the time

A: I think you are referring to this statement on our site: "The fundamental philosophy and Program of EconomicDemocracy.org is that of Starting with 'Big-picture' Goals first, then finding tools, projects, and programs for achieving them; rather than starting with the available tools and looking to what we can do with the existing tools. If all you see is the hammer, every problem is a nail, the saying goes. If, instead of looking at the tools first, you can dream what NEEDS to be done, you might design new tools (or often: discover ones that exist that you haven't noticed) to be used to reach those goals"

Think of Science: at an early stage, Science starts with Tools and works towards goals. For example, with nanotechnology, science has learned how to make molecules perform a small number of "toy like tricks" A, B, C, etc, and then we can ask, given that we can do A, B, and C, how can these be used in combination, to accomplish something new, and possibly useful? At a more advanced stage in any particular field in Science, one has enough tools to accomplish most things (within a certain domain) and one starts with the goals since one has enough tools (that one can assemble together) at one's disposal to accomplish most carefully specified goals. E.g. today, one can actually sit at a keyboard and type in any sequence one likes, and have a machine create DNA stands with that molecular sequence.

There are good strategic reasons to work this way: "keep your eyes on the prize" and use the "big goals" as a guiding compass in more short-term projects. Furthermore, we assert that existing and rapidly emerging technologies -- together with the always necessary elements of human intelligence, solidarity, communication and networking -- are sufficient to accomplish the Big Picture goals.

What are the Big Picture Goals? In a sentence, they are to fundamentally transform the media landscape to a democratically controlled one, and to likewise transform the economy to one of decentralized, democratic control, and autonomous units in voluntary cooperation; one consequence being the meeting of all basic needs. . This last most ambitious Goals is the subject of a forthcoming EconomicDemocracy.org article on "A Workable Plan for Dismantling and Transitioning Away from Corporate Power To A Democratic Economy" -- or a shorter title to this effect!

However for the sake of humanity and the planet (as well as for achieving that goal) it is urgently important to work on the critical goal of democratizing the media landscape.

Q: From your earlier points, I'm guessing you don't want to just pressure corporations, but to create a new alternative media.

A: Yes. The shorter Reclaim the Media, a call to action, is in part about why we can't expect accuracy and fairness from the corporate media. So what's the answer? A Democratic Mass Media. We have Corporate Mass Media, reaching tens of millions. And we have Democratic Media like DemocracyNow.org and Indymedia.org, but to have a Democratic Mass media would be a grassroots, democratic media system which also had a "mass" audience, in the tens of millions listeners/viewers, eventually even more.

Q: And your piece "The Revolution Will Be Webcast" demonstrates that doing so is possible, and even suggests out to start creating such a democratic mass media?

A: Exactly. It is a strategic vision article. Two shorter companion piece give more specific proposal tactics and action plans (see below)

Q: Ok, you have me intrigued... but now for the technology question!

A: Fire away!

Q: Well, I guess the way you sometimes hear this, is, is this site into technophilia?

A: Glad you asked. The answer is a definite "No!" The main author (HB) in fact does not own a TV, nor a cell phone (gasp!) or PDA or MP3 player... though admittedly spends a fair amount of time on the internet writing websites like this and engaging in electronic activism

Q: This is the Harel who wrote "Electronic Activism" parts I and II in 1992 and 1993, long before technology made a very big and by now famous impact in the 1999 Seattle demonstration? And he now claims to have an article that similarly foreshadows the next huge wave?

A: Yes, and yes. But back to your question, technophelia is about predicting what technology will or must do. That is not what EconomicDemocracy.org is about. It is about analysis about what technology could do if properly harnessed. And you can be sure that the corporations and governmental elites are asking themselves this all the time: "how can today's technological tools, and the tools that are emerging in the next several years, be used to maximize the impact we have and the power we can exercise to get what we want?" they are always asking. And doing. We should not surrender this arena to them. We too need to ask the same questions, and hopefully, to some up with creative answers (see also letter to Z magazine).

Although the human element, community, and autonomous inter-dependence and mutual aid are the cornerstone of any social change, Technology is an ever-more-powerful tool which we must harness. Technology is neutral, not evil, though in a corrupt world, it's not surprising that so many uses of technology are corrupt, or evil. We can put it to positive uses by using it for our ends; otherwise, "They" will be the only ones using this increasingly powerful tool; it is a tool that can help us get "from here to there." Hopefully this clarifies that point.

Q: It does! And now to the main meal, right?

A: Indeed!

EconomicDemocracy.org's main media meta-project, from which many projects can start. More accurately it is the Media Meta-Project for Media Democratization. What can we do today in and the coming years about the 98%+ control of the mass-media by corporations, and how can we transform the media landscape into one with a Democratic Mass Media?

After reading the article, write us at info[at-sign]economicDemocracy.org and also post at the FORUMS page.

For the future of the Planet and Humanity,

-Harel B.

Print out and read:

Electronic Activism Revisited: The Revolution Will be Webcast
The Main "Strategic Vision" article on Democratizing the Media Landscape

Or start with this shorter Synopsis of Webcast Project

After reading the "Webcast" article, you can go to the Projects section of Economicdemocracy.org for "CounterSpinner" (10-point action plan to get the vision in Webcast started) and "On Funding" (applicable to activist projects generally, to help put grassroots organizing on a stronger financial footing. But also directly applicable to CounterSpinner)

The Projects section of Economicdemocracy.org also have other articles including about transforming the economic landscape.

EconomicDemocracy.org Homepage