The fundamental task of the left has always been to create the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to live lives of decency and dignity. I believe this task is best achieved—or has a better chance of being achieved—when these same ordinary people have significant say in the decision-making processes of the basic institutions that guide and regulate their lives. I am a radical democrat or improvisational socialist—as opposed to a social democrat or left liberal— because I am convinced that the rule of capital (an interlocking network of corporate, bank, and political elites), the hegemony of white and male supremacist ideologies, the proliferation of homophobic sensibilities, and the relative weakness of ecological consciousness are the major obstacles to our task.
My fundamental aim is never mere amelioration or incremental change. Nor is my expectation that of paradise. Rather, a utopian impulse forces me always to look beyond the possible—even though I know that in a conservative civilization such as ours (in which corporate priorities and chronic sexism, homophobia, and, above all, racism are more the norm than the exception) we must not down-play the reforms that result from revolutionary endeavor. I still take seriously Raymond Williams’s notion of the “long revolution” or Michael Harrington’s vision of an epochal revolution that requires a sustained (democratic) march through economic, political, and cultural institutions....
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