Some Thoughts On RPS/2044
By Bertrand Dellinger
Late in the book RPS/2044, the book’s interviewer, Miguel Guevara, asks one of it’s eighteen interviewees, named
Bertrand Dellinger – who happens to be me – the origin of the phrase “planting the seeds of the future in the present.”
I answer: “I think it was originally an anarchist slogan but whatever its source, it certainly means that the attitudes, social relations, and structures we plant determine our harvest. If you want daisies, plant daisies. If you want roses, plant roses. If you plant weeds, you won’t harvest daisies or roses no matter how well you water your weeds. We should not plant seeds today which will become other than what we want tomorrow.”
RPS/2044 takes “planting seeds of the future in the present” another step by bringing a possible future to an existing present for an extended visit.
Guevara interviews eighteen participants of Revolutionary Participatory Society (RPS). He elicits our first hand memories of events motives, effects, and lessons. The catch is that of course the future events we recount aren’t really, nor even fictionally, future.
The book’s premise, briefly noted in its Foreword, is that Guevara’s Earth, which is mine too – time-shifted 28 years from your Earth, and space-shifted to who knows where from your Earth. More, it has somehow delivered to your Earth its oral history of its time-shifted United States near future revolution.
It is an outrageous ploy, some might call it sophomoric, yet, call me gullible, I feel it works.
After readers are told the background, they begin reading the oral history – and it feels exactly like an actual recounting by actual participants of actual events in actual interviews. Really, it does, yet it is, of course, none of that, but instead a novel whose primary point is to reveal possibilities, ideas, visions, and strategies suitable to winning a better future.
You can tell on every page of RPS/2044 that it’s interviewees wish only to inspire and provoke hope.
RPS/2044 is not plot-, character-, technology-, or thrill-driven. It’s an account of normal people contributing to the tumult of better times. We tell our stories and relay our feelings in untutored words that sum more to an informed prayer than a lectured blueprint.
RPS/2044 has ample plot details and emotional weight, but it features social rather than personal struggle. Its protagonist is the movement, not any member of it. Its point is to aid winning a new world. How could anyone who seeks universal liberation not want those desires fulfilled?
Even as I was directly familiar with much of RPS’s history, and even as I had heard or read about almost all the rest as it happened, I found myself powerfully moved by many of my fellow interviewee’s descriptions. I nodded along at their accounts of many organizing problems that I knew well from my own experiences, and I smiled with satisfaction at their resolutions.
I can only hope that you, dear reader, will find yourself hungry to live in RPS times rather than in Trump times. No problem. Make it happen.
The alternative future we interviewees describe starts with your 2016 election, moves through Trump and Trumpism – and yes, we suffered the carrot topped terror too – and continues from there, including all manner of struggles traversing all sides of life.
Some readers may say our progress from 2016 through 2044 moves too fast to be real. Twenty eight years and the ship comes in?
Well I’m telling you that on board it felt even faster, but history has a surprising way of accelerating.
That said, how could it be too fast. Just one year slower would have been millions more lives unnecessarily lost, billions more lost liberated moments. In that context, other things equal, faster is certainly better.
Other readers will take issue with this or that RPS claim, commitment, or method. Again, no problem. In your own rendition, in your own future, do it your own way.
RPS/2044 indicates which aspects of its own trajectory we believe contextual and which we believe central, but only your history will decide.
Of course some who read RPS/2044 will compare it with Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward/1888. But that was then and this is now, and that wonderful book put more emphasis on the inner lives of its memorable characters whereas this book has each participant answer Miguel Guevara, our interviewer, in our own words, as the people we are, but with our personal lives ancillary to our shared history.
My own reading of RPS/2044’s seventeen other contributors’ insights conveyed to me much about my fellow participants I didn’t know…but I mostly learned about the innards of a movement I have been part of from its prehistory to its first convention, from its conceptualization to chapter building, from its settling on aims to its developing program, from its raising consciousness within and without, to its waging diverse struggles in all sides of life, from its ideas, values, and desires, to its planting seeds – to its triumph.
I was happy to learn of a website Miguel established (at www.rps2044.org) that presents RPS’s front and end matter.
Not to slight songs, the site also offers an incredible playlist of Music/Videos with over 120 offerings, four or five included for each chapter, from chapter one’s Roll Over Beethoven, Jailhouse Rock, God Bless the Child, and People Get Ready, to chapter thirty’s Ringing of Revolution, Hallelujah, Will The Wolf Survive, Time Has Come Today, and When the Ship Comes In.
The list visits, in between, the Dock of the Bay in Mississippi Goddam, with Bold Marauders and Deportees, on Freedom’s Highway under a Bad Moon and Hard Rain, enjoying the Wave to Save the Country from Youngstown to Laramie, watching Strange Fruit while Catching the Wind, remembering People Who Died for Redemption, toiling on Maggie’s Farm while Killing in the Name, Imagining Once They Banned Imagine, seeing the Star Spangled Banner Blowing in the Wind, hearing The Sounds of Silence Everybody Knows, Fighting the Power Now that the Buffalo’s Gone, hearing the Soldier’s Song after the Call Up, Go Go Going Closer to Fine, wondering What It Means to a Working Class Hero, feeling Something in the Air under Spanish Bombs moaning Farewell Angelina, intoning No More Auction Block to the Fortunate Son, wondering with Biko How Much a Dollar Cost, while All the Young Dudes Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free, Born to Be Loved or Born This Way, looking for Sign of the Times from the Badlands to the Man in Black, hearing Chimes of Freedom behind Another Brick in the Wall, Wrote A Song for Everyone while Lives in the Balance, with Cops of the World as Universal Soldiers, awaiting no more Masters of War – and much more.
On the website for RPS/2044, the music appears as links to YouTube videos – which I am still enjoying, albeit a bit sad that we didn’t send along works from our future. But you can send suggested additions.
The site invites readers to send questions to the participants who, it says, will post replies, and indeed I see that some have already appeared. I hope you’ll send me my share of questions.
The site also welcomes people to post criticisms, suggest improvements, propose adaptations for other countries, and contribute rewrites, additions, deletions, and especially explorations and extensions using the included blog system so all the site’s users can engage with your insights. In short the site seeks participation.
Finally, I include some further promo below, hoping to spur you on. But first, I would like to explain why I feel I need to do that. Can’t the book attract you on its own?
RPS/2044 has no publisher so unless something changes, it will not be available in stores. No ads for it, either. This is because, my inquiries revealed, when submitted it was rejected by about ten publishers before Miguel and Michael made it directly available via Amazon. Pretty ironic, that last part.
The publishers’ reasons: we don’t do fiction; we do fiction but this reads too real; we do fiction, but this needs a protagonist; we are full up on novels, including two new dystopian ones, maybe you should switch to envisioning armageddon; we do non fiction, so we can’t do this; we do non fiction, you should strip out the interviewing and make it more scholarly and resubmit it; we do non fiction, and this reads like it is non fiction, but it reads too easy, where are the footnotes; and so on, with no publisher even mentioning the book’s actual contents.
So it seems to me outreach must reach out entirely from those who are involved, which is interviewees like me and readers like you – so I am trying. I hope you will try too, if you find the book useful.
I heard a story that the first few reviews of Capital were written under pseudonyms by Frederick Engels – perhaps he’s not the best model, but desperation breeds strange bed mates. And this isn’t a review, it’s “Thoughts On.” And it owns up to my involvement.
Another oddity, the book introduces me and seventeen other interviewees, one interviewer, and one more person, the living breathing kind, Michael Albert, of Z Communications. Albert is the author of numerous political, activist non fiction books and is listed as RPS/2044’s author along with Miguel Guevara from my time-shifted world. So am I a figment of Albert’s crazy mind? I can’t help but notice this book is so different than anything else Albert has published it might be more accurate to say he merely channeled all its many other authors, including me, as well as the wisdom of some dead heroes he borrowed the interviewees’ names from. Bertrand Dellinger? I ain’t no philosopher pacifist. But am I a figment? I wonder.
As an inducement to read RPS/2044 for yourself, here are a few timeline entries from my time shifted society’s RPS history, all of which appear in RPS descriptions and discussions. Like you, we too had Sanders Campaign, Black Lives Matter Program, the NFL Anthem Protests, Trump Elected, Immigrant Activism, Sanctuary Cities Movements, Expanded Minimum Wage Movements, and the Women’s Millions March. But during our shifted time, we added Church Sanctuary Movements, Athletes Sanctuary Movement, Global March for Sustainability, Detroit Wages and Anti Violence Rally, War No More Rallies, and our Wall Street Peace and Justice March.
All that spawned our Firearms Manufacturers Boycott, Campus Military Divestment Campaigns, and finally our Initial RPS Meetings/Groups while Public Schools for the People emerged as did the Olympics Decentralization Movement, and Athletes Boycotts for Community Safety.
We then had our pivotal RPS Founding Convention, followed closely by the First Hollywood RPS meeting, the birth of Journalists for Social Responsibility, the Religious Renovations Movement, and the first Hollywood RPS School at about the time our One Hundredth RPS Chapter Formed and we initiated our Press the Press Campaign, National Community Control of Police Campaign, Campaigns for Balanced Jobs, Alternative Media Renovation Campaign, and Legal Workers Conference.
Then along with the High School Athletes Movement came our $25 Hr. Minimum Wages Campaign, Schools for Organizers, 30 Hour Work Week campaign, and the RPS-Defining Second Convention, plus our Shadow Government.
We soon began our National Bike Campaigns, Rights to the City expansion, Gender Roles Renovation, and extensive apartment organizing, leading to our 500th chapter forming.
Then came the pivotal Amazon Sit-down Strike and UPS, and Fed Ex support Strikes, followed by our Online Curriculum Campaign, National Alternative Media Coalition, and 1000th Chapter forming.
We undertook our Collective Alternative Media Funding Project and began our Military and Prison Conversion Campaigns, started up People’s Social Media, undertook nationwide Pharmaceuticals’ Protests, enjoyed the Oscar winning movie: Next American Revolution: Good Will Winning, and celebrated our Two Thousand Five Hundredth Chapter.
Next came the California Campus Workers Strike, the Harvard Med School Strike, and the National Grad Students Strike, plus nationwide Prisoners Strikes and the spreading Hotel and Motel Occupations.
Medicine for Health not Profit grew and the world watched the Chicago Public School Occupation followed by Hollywood Strikes, the People’s Clinics Movement, and then the National Public Schools Occupations.
The National Nurses March, the Columbus Factory Takeovers, and Public Schools for the People, closely preceded Malcolm King becoming Senator of Massachusetts, and the National Coop Coalition.
Then came Students for Balanced Jobs, the Cleveland Workers Movement, People’s Prison Reform, and the NY, LA, Chicago, SF… Worker Movements.
The Hospital Renovations Movement grew and Hollywood’s Celia Lopez became Governor of California.
Our National Bloc Movement got going followed closely by National Prisoners Strike, Coops for Self Management, Factories for the People, and the Chicago Health Workers Strike.
Our Community Planning Movement, meshed with the National Health Workers Strike and Coops for RPS Economy, leading to Industry Wide Strikes and the Global Climate Action Strike.
The National Participatory Budgeting Campaign led to the Week Long U.S. National Strike, and Miguel Guevara began conducting interviews about all the above for this oral history.
And construction proceeds
Would you like to read about how we managed all that? Hopefully you would. But in case you still haven’t gotten to it, here is an indicative excerpt from Chapter Three, in which Guevara asks my friend Bill Hampton what most moved him in the early days of RPS:
“The first thing that comes to mind was when I was at a sanctuary for immigrants slated to be deported. The site was a church in Texas, with an incredibly courageous pastor, choir, and congregation. Police came and announced they were going to take the immigrant families away for deportation. “They had their vans and were set to do their duty. They lined up in three rows, ten abreast, facing the church entrance. The Pastor stood atop the Church steps, with maybe 50 congregants, and the full choir.
“The Pastor told the sheriff that to take the immigrant families, the police would have to go through the church’s extended family. He said, and I will never forget, ‘You will have to assault us. You may even have to kill us. We will not be moved in our minds. We will only be moved in our bodies and only then if you brutalize our limbs and torsos into physical silence and shove our trembling husks aside. If you feel that is warranted, come ahead.’
“We all simultaneously locked arms and before the police could even process that, the doors of the Church opened to reveal rows and rows of congregants, also with locked arms. You could see the families, in the distance at the pulpit.
“This was Selma, the Pettus bridge. It was Birmingham. The sheriff may as well have been Bull Connor reincarnated. Likely most or perhaps all the officers who accompanied the sheriff hoped they would get some action. But two sat down with us. Welcomed, crying, they must have thought they would be unemployed by days’ end, but they sat.
“The sheriff knew that breaching our human barrier would only succeed if we crumbled and ran. The Pastor said, no, we won’t run. But the sheriff had so little regard for anyone who could side with immigrants that he felt, of course we would fold. A few big swings of their overlong batons and we would scurry off leaving a clear path to the deportees. So the sheriff gave a two minute warning. The choir began singing. ‘We shall not be moved, we shall not be moved…’ The two minutes passed. The sheriff and his deputies marched into our human barrier. They struck viciously with their long, scary batons. Our singing continued. ‘Deep in our hearts we know…’ As the officers tromped and battered us, we grunted and moaned, but few screamed.
“With the choir singing, with more folks from within the church coming out, and with onlookers clearly horrified, incredibly, the defenders, including myself, reached up and embraced our tormentors. Our hugs diminished their capacity for brutal swings. There was an intimacy about it. We weren’t begging. We were understanding. We weren’t fighting fire with fire, but with water. We weren’t fighting racism with racism, but with solidarity.
“After a moment, some deputies relented. Then the sheriff did too. He had to. They certainly could have physically demolished us, leaving a battlefield of blasted souls in their wake, but nothing less would take the families, and scorched earth was too much.
“At first indication of retreat, the Pastor, bloodied and bent, invited the sheriff and his closest deputies to enter the church. I can still hear him. ‘You just have to leave your batons and guns with your fellow officers outside. If you will do that, you are welcome to talk to the immigrant families, myself, and others in our space of peace and worship within.’
“Tears flowed. Medics aided congregants. Calmly, respectfully, after what seemed like an eternity of just standing there staring at the bloodied Pastor, and in what I will never know but suspect was a shock for the Pastor like for the rest of us, the Sheriff took off his gun, and walked with the Pastor into the Church.
“I don’t know what they talked about, but the next day the Sheriff held a brief press conference. ‘I will no longer recognize federal orders, or any orders at all, to deport immigrants.’
“That was the whole thing. It was the shortest, longest, press conference ever. It was also the beginning of the end, not just in Texas and the U.S., but around the world, of the blame the immigrant, beat the immigrant, expel the immigrant, mindset. When those who are paid to impose rule break bread with presumed violators, rule succumbs to resistance. This was such an incredible sight, such an incredible event, so meaningful an occurrence in so many ways, that, I have to name it in answer to your question.
“I should add the event changed me in another major way. Before, I had always been afraid of and hated cops. I knew their worst side firsthand. To me, my family, my friends, cops spelled danger and even death. I used the epithet ‘pig’ more than ‘officer.’ I saw only one way to deal with them: fight fire with fire, eye to eye, toe to toe. The sanctuary didn’t make me a pacifist, but it did make me reassess defaming people and what made tactical sense. The sheriff was an archetype cop, but we disarmed him. Non violence plus compassion beat what would have totally demolished any attempt by us to fight back. I learned instead of violence being first resort, it had to be last. I learned there was a huge burden of proof on being violent and even on creating conditions leading to violence.”
I was powerfully moved by Bill’s account of something I somehow had missed. My bad. I thought I’d share it.
Bill Hampton, by the way, was born in 1997 and became highly active in immigration and anti racist politics and then in RPS. He focussed on issues of city life, transportation, and urban planning which he was active in conceiving and organizing for. In time, he became a prominent inner city activist and candidate, and then a Mayoral candidate and finally Mayor of New York City. And he had a way with words too, though, by way of warning, we aren’t all as eloquent as Bill.
Finally, I hope to see you on the RPS/2044 site. I hope you send me a question or two. And here is my brief bio as it appears in RPS/2044:
Bertrand Dellinger, born in 1966, was politicized by his no nukes and anti war activism. He became a key advocate of RPS from its inception. Bertrand has been a university professor of physics and world renowned contributor to physics theory, as well as a social critic and militant activist his entire adult life. He was shadow Vice President under Lydia Luxembourg’s first RPS shadow presidency, and later had his own term as shadow President, as well.