As December of 2013 was drawing to a close, nineteen scholars all united by their fierce dedication to the notion that our contemporary social and cultural circumstances were inequitable, oppressive, and in the central contravention of those principles on which this nation has been created, gathered on a frigid winter’s morning in Cambridge, Massachusetts to commence a five-year dialogue about America and its prospective future.
Moreover, what further animated this dialogue’s inception and its continuance is the companionable perspective that the solutions to these extraordinary afflictions required both the reconceptualization of those foundational normative commitments and institutional structures of a political and economic character on which our society resides.
This initiative, “The Next System Project” which is being sponsored by the Democracy Collaborative, asserts that “the goal is to put the central idea of system change and that there can be a “next system” on the map.”
This group of theorists and empirically situated activists have devoted enormous energy and significant resources both to the conceptual creation of various paradigms that have been implemented in ever-increasing numbers of American communities in both an urban and rural context, as well as audacious and effective organizational innovations in the international environment as well.
These multi-disciplinary initiatives are the result of decades of research and analysis which was prompted by the fundamental inquiry “What reforms/revisions/epistemological constructs are required to restore the vibrancy and efficacy of our democracy to the control of the majority of our citizens and simultaneously rejuvenate the middle class and construct new and efficacious exits from poverty in which our underclass continues to languish?”
Among those present were Gar Alperovitz, Political Economist, James Speth, Law Professor, Paul Adler, Professor of Management and Organization, Joe Guinan Executive DIrector of this project, and other representatives from the realm of Labor, Social Policy, Venutre Capital, Environmentalists, Political Theorists, Economists, wedded to various models of community – based economic development/employee governance, Philosophers and Sociologists, and Urban Planning specialists.
The preceding reflect a breadth and depth of relevant disciplines that in the context of this effort and beyond, provides an unprecedented comprehensiveness of scope and inclusiveness.
It is my considered judgment that this effort of 19 citizens and others who have indicated a willingness and fervent desire to be a party to this dialogue represent the potential beyond all other efforts with which I am conversant (presuming others exist) that possess the capacity at its conclusion, to liberate this nation from its contemporary tragic circumstances and furnish a paradigm, process, and the requisite tactical and strategic political agenda to ensure its transition from conceptual blueprint to a social reality
Though the ideals and prescriptions of a moral and theological character that animated our nation’s founding have served us reasonably well through our journey to this date, and while it is my view that various elements of the preceding can be recast and reconfigured to serve the requirements of a just society’s contemporary necessities, much of what is imperative is the construction of new models and institutional constructs, systems, and political practices, if we are to achieve both the complete realization of that which those who established this sovereign entity and the generations of reformers who labored to expand in operational terms the quotient of democratic principles and the magnitude of social justice had envisioned.
Because of the fervor and passion with which I embrace the absolute necessity of the scholarship in which those engaged in this multi-year project are involved, it is my intent in an informal manner to monitor and observe the various products be they in the form of media or cinematic releases, white papers, periodicals, or more lengthy manuscripts, conferences, town hall meetings etc. which this undertaking periodically releases.
I would urge all who are committed to the attainment of a society in which the ideals and values this project represents to become involved in its activities, contributing your energy, intellectual capacities, material resources, etc. or any other capability you may possess and choose to provide.
My particular contribution to this endeavor will be found in my manuscript that will be released to bookstores, etc. in the spring of this year, i.e. “America’s Future: Requiem or Renaissance? – An Agenda For The Transformation of Our Nation and Ourselves; in which I address various facets of the contemporary dilemma which confronts us, the requirement to construct and implement much of what Alperovitz and company are advocating, in an alternative cultural paradigm, and a strategy to supplement their efforts and the activities of so many who are committed to the metamorphosis of the United States.
Though the previously cited assemblage is much too modest to acknowledge it and reflect a collective humility that is in my respectful view excessive, the undeniable reality is that 239 years after its founding this nation has produced a coterie of scholars who in their moral frame of reference and intellectual profundity shall provide the epistemological leadership to transform America! I wish them God Speed, great success, and they are truly most worthy of the title that so accurately reflects this effort – “America’s Refounding Fathers and Mothers.”