Society is composed of social processes, and is itself a large-scale process. No change social process can secure itself without social or political relocalization. For example, a very potent effort is being made to localize food production and consumption, but this requires the localization of many other social processes: polity, law, transportation, the built environment, and so on. In other words those who seek to transform society do best to work on two pivotal processes alongside whatever else they do: conversion from hierarchical to reticular organization of human groups, and secession from hierarchically arranged polities, in order to gain the latitude for local autonomy.
"Conversion" names what social radicals, utopianists, cultural entrepreneurs, and others are pursuing. They seek to change how life currently goes. Conversion is thus the act of reform. Converters want to turn unjust institutions into just ones. They want to turn conspicuous consumption into sustainable consumption, they want to redistribute wealth, they want to turn the health industry into healthy communities, they want to replace exploitative capitalism into green capitalism. Many want to change education so that human habits are transformed. They are exceedingly practical and very programmatic. The problem that plagues social transformation is that the conversion of existing conditions is usually hampered by entrenched habits (including ways of thinking) that are built into or take shape as macro-practices in other areas of life. Reformists usually feel that these other areas are too basic and thus unchangeable, like the economy or the political system. This is partly what defeats reformist efforts: too much of the existing conditions stays the same. Conversion, therefore, should be coupled with secession.
Secession can be applied as an effective social transformation not only to existing recognized political units like states, but also to sectors of industries, groups of workers, neighborhoods, or a sub-population in an institution, students, for example. By seceding, people withdraw support from the current, frequently oppressive conditions of their lives, and establish their lives on new bases. Always, such bases are dynamic, and should be treated as processes; they will be different in even a year's time. A polity is something people do, a macro-process or macro-practice. The law is another macro-practice. A particular law is a micro-practice, but still something that people do. Another micro-practice is a textiles firm, another the idea of representational democracy. In each of these cases and more it is possible and even desirable to withdraw energies from the performance of them in order first to change the conditions for some particular area of life, and second to become autonomous, i.e., self-governing either as individuals or as groups. It has historically been easier to seceded as an individual, but difficult to do so as a group. Existing systems of processes (say, a nation) are profoundly threatened by withdrawal of support by its members. Millions have much invested in the existing conditions for their lives provided by the nation. Nonetheless, if social transformation is to take hold, and if autonomy and cooperation are to be promoted among our values, the possibilities of secession must be exploited at any level of social performance that is relevant to the social performance being rehabilitated.
A caveat: secession by itself is naive, even if committed. We take our darknesses with us into the new country, and no one can root out at once all traces of old habits. This is why some people, like Wendell Berry, are distrustful of movements, and why so many say revolutions do not work. Secession needs conversion, but not only of social practices. Individual habits (or ways of living) must also be converted. Secession and conversion, ideally, go hand in hand in the process of changing the world. They are two complementary aspects of the process of social change.
Sociatecture will consult with organizations, neighborhoods, communities, and municipalities that are interested in reticular conversions of their existing polity, economics, education, and urban arrangements. At the most extreme end, Sociatecture also provides guidance in practical secession—students from schools, workers from employers, municipalities or counties from states, so that they can set up their educational, productive, and political life on anarchic conditions.
Practically what this would look like is the meeting of situationally specific, decision-making groupings set up in addition to and in replacement of existing, general governments, whether first governments (elected officials) or second governments (capitalists and corporate managers: economic bosses of all scales, technics). These parallel decision-making efforts are both dramatic and efficacious: they serve as symbolic notice to the existing and permanent powers that be that their power is arbitrary, not natural; and they constitute sites of constituent power, to use Antonio Negri's phrase (used to explain Spinoza's theory of mass politics). Two kinds of situation call them into being: they respond to moments of decision, without being a standing body. In fact they must eschew the whole metaphor of body. They are processual, not massive. Second they respond to general, ongoing conditions of hierarchy or domination by provoking response from standing governments. Eventually, these episodic gatherings for social decision-making are to be the only kind of replacement for standing government, planning authorities, and bosses.
As secession is being accomplished, Sciatecture will assist in the development of a grouping-specific WikiEthica. This will help bring about the habits of relation, interaction, and action, without reproducing hierarchical and juridic traditions.
There is room for co-workers on these efforts. If you’d like to affiliate as a social designer or if you’d like to discuss conversion of your organization, contact Eric Buck, gro.seidutSevitamrofsnarT|kcube#gro.seidutSevitamrofsnarT|kcube. Our fees are negotiable and we invite innovation in this area, as our effort to embody the practice of conversion and secession.
For further discussion of these matters, have a look around this website.