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RADICAL MIDDLE, THE BOOK:
OUR CONGRES- SIONAL SCORECARDS:
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WHO WE ARE:
man who can produce the magnificently honest – and therefore also stunningly
original – last four issues of New Options [#4 and #10 below – ed.]
is also a man, I have no doubt, who can foster ‘a truly creative synthesis
between alternative and mainstream approaches.’
Go for it!”
Uneasy Pieces; or,
Satin Shares What He Sees as His 12 Best Political Writings, 1967 – Present
I have written nearly a
million published words since my first little pamphlet for the Student Union
for Peace Action back in 1967, including five
books and the bulk of over 130 issues of hard-copy national political newsletters (Renewal,
New Options, and Radical Middle).
Most of that writing consists of analyses of national and world
problems (with proposed solutions!), anatomies of social change groups, and
constructively-critical reviews of “political” books, and you can find the
most lastingly relevant of that material HERE and HERE.
But occasionally I would
write more encompassing or more reflective or more self-critical pieces, and
as I’ve grown older I’ve begun to think of that as my best work.
In addition, I’ve begun to see that what I was doing in those uneasy
pieces evolved over time, in ways that I think the radical social change
movement itself needs to evolve, if we are ever going to be something other
than the hyper-idealistic conscience of left-liberal politicians; if we are
ever going to take the lead in healing and transforming this nation.
I could say more – much
more – about this. But taken
together, my 12 pieces say it better. So
let me turn the floor over to them.
A. INSIDE HYPER-IDEALISTIC POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS
Three Committees: SNCC in Mississippi, 1965
This short story is my contribution to today’s debate over America’s racial divide. It is based on my experiences as a civil rights volunteer for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi in 1965, when it was beginning to move away from its integrationist stance. The story raises issues that are not properly being raised today. [Readers' responses to this story can be found HERE.]
Bringing Draft Dodgers to Canada in the 1960s: The
Reality Behind the Romance
Many war resisters romanticized the work I was
doing at the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme in the 1960s.
Even some mainstream journalists wrote quasi-sympathetic articles about
us. But behind the scenes,
mistrust, power struggles, and resentments ran amok.
I try to explain why.
Participants Agonize Over (and Draw Lessons From) the
Death and Life of the New World Alliance
In 1979 I helped organize the New World Alliance,
America’s first national transformational / New Age / holistic (we never
could agree on a perfect moniker) political organization.
Although our Governing Council was diverse, well-connected, and had
beautiful intentions, after four years we dissolved.
In this series of missives, 15 of us try to make sense of it all.
4. You Don’t Have to Be a Baby to Cry: The U.S. Green Party in 1990 [PDF]
In 1984 I helped found what eventually became the
U.S. Green Party, and this is a first-hand account of a national Green
gathering. In my articles on the
first two gatherings, I bent over backward to give us every benefit of the
doubt (see HERE); however, in this article I
highlighted – with as much empathy as I could muster – some of our
enduring flaws. [A subsequent
issue, consisting entirely of responses from 46 readers, occupies the last
eight pages of the PDF.]
HYPER-IDEALISTIC POLITICAL BOOKS
5. What Can We Learn from the Antiglobalists?
In 2006 one of my old New Options advisors,
David Korten, published a book – The Great Turning – that reads
remarkably like my New Age Politics book from the 1970s.
Reviewing it gave me a chance to reassess many New Age / Great Turning
ideas in the context of the 21st century, and I found many of them to be
simplistic, inadequate, or unappealing. While
I recommend this book as a valuable thought experiment, for me the experiment
shows that many hyper-idealistic ideas need a radical centrist makeover. [Author
Annie Gottlieb’s commentary on this article is HERE.]
6. Is There an Invisible and
Exceptionally Life-Loving Political Movement in Our Midst?
In the early 1980s, Paul Hawken criticized me and
some other New World Alliance members for trying to organize the emerging
transformational movement into a coherent political force.
His views carried the day, and in his book Blessed Unrest (2007) he defends and celebrates the “invisible”
(his word) movement that developed instead.
Although I like many of Paul’s books, I argue that this one is both
muddle-headed and dishonest and that his strategy helped give us the Bushes
and the Clintons.
C. TOWARD A RADICAL CENTER
7. Two Conferences, One Generation [PDF]
Part of the Sixties Generation is frankly after
power, and is comfortable with it. Another
part wishes to retain its idealism and “innocence.”
Can these two impulses be brought together?
A first-hand look at two intriguing conferences highlights the
importance of that question – which has raised its head in every generation
8. Twenty-eight Ways of Looking at Terrorism [PDF]
Suppose they’re all valid and “true.”
How would that affect our understanding of the world?
And how might our politics change as a result?
After spending two months with terrorism “experts” ranging from the
hyper-pragmatic to the deeply spiritual, I could not get such questions out of
my mind. [Responses from 14
readers follow this article. The
first and last still bring tears to my eyes.]
9. The 1980s Were Better Than We Thought [PDF]
Forget the self-aggrandizing individual of
conservative economic theory and the self-sacrificing, collectively focused
individual of radical-liberal dreams. The
1980s marked the emergence of a third model of human being, the “caring
person,” equally committed to personal growth and social change.
[Responses from 21 readers are on pp. 5-6 of subsequent issue #66, HERE.]
10. Some of Our Daughters, Some of Our Lovers [PDF]
There’s a lot of pressure right now to define sex
as “only” sex, and prostitutes as “sex workers.”
This perhaps excessively first-hand account of Washington, D.C. street
prostitutes questions these hyper-idealistic (or are they hyper-cynical?)
reformulations. Along the way, it
asks what these women’s’ lives reveal about love and relationships in
America. [A subsequent issue,
consisting entirely of responses from 59 readers, follows the article.]
11. Futility, Fury and Hope Outside the Republican National Convention
First-hand account of the anti-corporate protests
and “shadow convention” outside the RNC in Philadelphia (the first George
W. Bush convention). Concludes
that, in the 21st century, the most effective social change agents will be
inside The System, not outside it.
12. The Katrina Dialogues
As soon as Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans,
liberals, conservatives, and radicals offered up “solutions” by the score.
But they weren’t listening to each other.
Enter “Dio” (short for Diogenes), a rakish hero who manages to do
what a truly transformational and truly successful third political party will
do in the future – make all sides listen to and learn from each
baker’s 12. What the Poor Need Now
First-hand account of life in Section VIII housing
in Oakland CA today. Liberal,
conservative, and radical solutions to the problems of the poor are all
partial at best. What the poor
need can be delivered, but not bureaucratically, and not by jobs or income
alone. [Responses from 23 readers
Fifty selected Radical
Middle newsletter articles are HERE.
Twenty-five selected New
Options newsletter back issues (encompassing over 50 articles) are HERE.
Wikipedia’s Mark Satin
biography, now a “Featured Article” there, is HERE.
ABOUT THE RADICAL MIDDLE CONCEPT
GREAT RADICAL MIDDLE GROUPS AND BLOGS:
SOME PRIOR RADICAL MIDDLE INITIATIVES:
SOME RADICAL MIDDLE LESSONS:
SOME PRIOR WRITINGS BY MARK SATIN:
NOT JUST RADICAL MIDDLE: