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DAILY REPORTS and Documents | iPNB Berkeley meeting info
Towards a Cooperative Pacifica

Presented at the iPNB meeting in Berkeley June 21 - 23, 2002

by Ken Freeland [ kenfree@EV1.net ] and Evan Davis

Newly revised and published for presentation at the Pacifica Now! Conference, New College, San Francisco, June 18-31

Preface to the second edition:

This revised version of the paper "Towards a Cooperative Pacifica" is intended primarily to serve as a springboard for further discussion about the Cooperative alternative at the Pacifica Now! Conference preceding the PNB meeting in Berkeley, June 2002, and among all members of the Pacifica family who have an interest in the vital question of the future organization of Pacifica. Far from carving anything in stone, this paper should be regarded as a work-in-progress, and if it seems to reflect more of a dialogue than a position paper, that is not accidental. Time constraints are one reason why this paper could not be "tightened up" into more "finished" form, but another is that this dialogue never ends and new ideas spring eternally from the fertile ground of Cooperative theory. It is our hope that readers of this introductory essay on the subject will be inspired to "grow their own" contributions to the vision of a Cooperative Pacifica.

Ken Freeland
June, 2002


"Definition: 'Criminal: a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.'"
    --Clarence Darrow

With the corporate form, good intentions all too easily pave the road to Hell. The recent subversion of Pacifica from within, still fresh in our collective memory, only typifies the kind of threat that the corporate form of organization, designed as it is to sustain decision- making control in the hands of the few, may facilitate.

Why should we at Pacifica continue to tinker with a form that is designed to facilitate top- down control - in other words, dictatorship? In Lew Hill's time, the prospect of an alternative to this standard legal mode of organizing economic and social activity might not have been evident to most, but it is useful to recall that when KPFA went into its earliest financial crisis, it was a Food Cooperative, not a corporation, that stepped in to help Pacifica's founder save his daring project. If Lew Hill was unable at the time to appreciate the benefits of the cooperative over the corporate form, let's not be too critical: his concept of listener-sponsored radio was radical enough in itself, and perhaps just keeping in mind how

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"cutting edge" this was for his time, we can realize our own responsibility to be cutting edge with our own ideas in our own time. Listener-sponsored radio is already a commonplace on the FM dial, so there's nothing challenging about that idea these days. But recognizing the crisis in the world economy caused by the decay of modern corporate capitalism, we should feel inspired enough by Lew's earlier example to consider reforming Pacifica into cooperative mode, so that we can serve as both an example and a resonator of cooperative values, and help precipitate the wave of the future: the cooperativization of our own, and the world's, social and economic activity.

Cooperation is more than a merely formal alternative to corporatism, rather, it is a movement, and one for which Pacifica is natural suited. Food co-ops, such as the one which came to Lew Hill's aid, are a classic example of "consumer cooperatives." Basically, cooperatives fall into two broad categories - the other one is called "producer cooperatives," which consists of co-ops owned by workers, whose primary purpose is to provide them a means of income in some socially responsible productive pursuit. This latter model does not recommend itself to Pacifica's use, however. While a "worker- owned" Pacifica is not inconceivable, a listener-sponsored radio network needs the more accountable (to itself) model of a consumer cooperative, which is a co-op "owned" by the people who make use of its product or service, for the purpose of providing affordable, high-quality goods or services for their personal use. As these "end-users" organize and capitalize the consumer coop, they are also the ultimate decision-makers as to the direction and future of the concern. All management and directors are responsible to these end-users as a whole, and are appointed and/or recalled by them according to strict democratic principles. However, it must be emphasized that a primary purpose of the consumer cooperative, as the pioneer Rochdale Consumer Cooperative demonstrated in Victorian England, is to keep a quality product or service affordable by "cutting out the middle man," and doing much of the work for themselves. Thus, in classic food cooperatives, the mutual owners took turns working at the store, stocking the shelves and totaling up purchases, doing the book work, etc. The obligation to contribute labor to the cooperative was originally a condition of membership - in other words, all cooperators were initially expected to be volunteers, a point not without relevance to Pacifica and its operation!

(Before going on to talk about the refinement of consumer-Cooperation we propose, a word about "ownership:" Ownership is a key element of both types of cooperatives, however, the lack of literal ownership in the case of Pacifica would not present any problem to the implementation of cooperative organization. As the specific proposal will detail, Pacificans can be "virtual" owners, while at the same time exerting complete, effective democratic control, which is another key value of a cooperative (and not of a corporation!). Pacifica National Board members could be recognized for what they theoretically and ideally are: stewards on behalf of the larger Pacifica community - the matter of legal ownership is moot so long as there is strict accountability, or answerability, to those who appointed them to this highest level of responsibility. )

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Corporatism and commercialism

"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism . . ."     -- Benito Mussolini (from Encyclopedia Italiana, Giovanni Gentile, editor)

It was Eldridge Cleaver, I think, who coined the phrase: "You're either part of the problem, or part of the solution." Herein lies the problem with a "corporate" approach to the management of Pacifica: corporatism IS a large part of the contemporary problem (and being the problem, it cannot therefore serve as the solution). The modern profit- oriented corporation IS the beast, at least, it is the form that beast takes when doing its everyday dirty work in the modern world. Lew Hill certainly had at least an inkling of this when he strongly urged, in penning Pacifica's original mission statement, that programs be aired that explore the economic underpinnings of war and social injustice. It is just because corporations put profits before people (and there are ultimately no exceptions to this rule) that they pose the ethical problem they do, and on all fronts: labor, environment, consumer, human rights, world peace, progressive religious values, not to mention the ever-increasing population of the incarcerated and the homeless - all suffer at the hands of corporations . . . all but a few isolated but empowered stockholders. (All of these victims of the New World Order of corporate capitalism form the natural support base of Pacifica broadcasting, of course!) But this is the paradigm within which economic success is pursued America today. And so Pacifica until recently was being remade in the modern corporate image: a self-selecting, autocratic board of directors, a small group of "majority stockholders" (high-rolling big donors), who are given special privileges, fêted, and given considerable clout regarding the program format (which is tailored to their "apolitical," entertainment-oriented tastes) on the one hand, while on the other hand, essentially out of the loop, existed a much larger group of disgruntled, disenfranchised workers (staff) and consumers (progressive listeners and potential listeners). Significant dissent on the part of staff was met with banning and firing, and serious protests from the listeners with legalism , P.R. "spin" and ultimately, in both cases, the police, in defense of sacrosanct "proprietary rights." All of this is boilerplate -- standard operating procedure in today's corporate America.

In my original draft of this paper, written well over a year ago as a somewhat more callow student of Pacifica's history, I wrote the following:

"...it was lassitude in this area of fiscal responsibility that provided the power vacuum into which these corporate types were drawn, for better or for worse, to save Pacifica (from itself). This, brothers and sisters, and not any ideological lapse, best explains how the political membrane of Pacifica was penetrated by those who neither fully understand nor therefore fully share in Pacifica's bona fide mission. Therefore, we must be extremely wary of ideological nostrums that propose to solve a problem politically that is essentially economic in nature."

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While my understanding of the political machinations to control Pacifica has matured since then, I include the above statement in this present version because it serves as a launching pad for Evan Davis' very valuable critique:

I think this represents only part of the picture. It's important to examine how the whole notion of "financial solvency" evolved within a context of the commercial radio ideology. I could do half a day of philosophizing and pontificating on this but the key point with regard to our proposal has to de with how the listeners are defined in a cooperative versus a commercial model. In the cooperative model the listeners are "owners" or "stakeholders" whereas in the commercial model they are "consumers". In the Cooperative model the organization has as part of its mission "serving" the listeners whereas in the commercial model the listeners are "appeased" or "attracted".

Two separate structures evolve that substantiate these two separate relationships. The Cooperative model BY VIRTUE OF ITS DEFINITION OF THE MEMBERS AS OWNERS ( sorry; didn't mean to yell) tends toward democratic inclusion and relies on direct communication and feedback ( community needs assessment) whereas the commercial model tends to "handle" or "wrangle" the listeners by attempting through means other than direct communication to anticipate the listeners "preferences" ( as opposed to needs). The commercial model tends toward a kind of entrepreneurial despotism and seeks ultimately to subvert the listeners' self expression and replace it with the more convenient approach of "marketing".

In a purely commercial example programming decisions are influenced by advertisers dollars rather than by any actual mandate from the listeners. Occasionally listeners are "polled" but not for the purpose of determining their programming preferences but in order to rationalize advertising rates to the advertisers who, in turn have a disproportionate say in the station's over all aesthetic. As a private enterprise the stations regard the advertisers as not-so-silent partners and themselves as middle-entities in a transaction in which the listeners are essentially sold to the advertisers.

In the case of non-commercial radio the attendant pathologies of the commercial model seep in where managers and programmers try to reduce the listeners to their checkbooks within an equation that emphasizes the financial "success" of one program over another based on the number of listener pledges it attracts. This departure from the original mission of community service paves the way for programming decisions to be based more on cash flow than on content which leads to statements like this one from the manager of WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio where a majority of the local programming was recently axed in favor of NPR/PRI; "...Content is not always King..." or this one from Tony Ford at Tucson's KXCI where the bulk of the prime time hours are occupied by commercial-oriented fare and the rootsy community based stuff is relegated to the evenings and Sundays; "You have to follow the money...". Essentially Tony's strategy is to appease the deep pocketed contributors with vapid un-challenging NPR and country music -type programming as a means of funding the station so that the less popular more challenging and innovative programming can have a home in the off hours.

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As Steven Starr, former KPFK interim GM said; "That's disingenuous. I's rather have 100 listeners each giving $5 than 5 listeners each giving $100..." the point being that if measured according to the standards of the commercial model an assessment of the station's relative financial health might completely omit or ignore the station's moral or spiritual stability - that is; the degree to which it lives up to its mission of community service.

So that's the deeper picture as I see it that formed the prologue to the insidious rise of the Chadberry Chupacabras. But it is equally important to look at the other vulnerabilities that precipitated this crisis. Essentially it can be analogized to a leak in a boat where the water is a competing ( commercial) ideology and the decision to sail in to rough seas represents the first flirtations with the "healthy Stations" plan, but there is also the matter of the rotting wood in the hull and this would be a metaphor for a set of political maladies that persisted both before and during the management crisis and which have yet to be addressed.

Now we get in to Resource Molbilization Theory.
   Remember that RMT invites us to take inventory of all the resources and constraints that bear on any given situation in which change may be catalyzed and that it further assigns all resources and constraints in to the categories of "tangible" vs, "Intangible". The political deficiencies at Pacifica ( the rotting wood) reside mainly in the "intangible" category yet what better example could there be which validates the emphasis RMT places on equal valuation of the "tangible" and "intangible"?

At Pacifica we have a history of the network being operated by and for a small subset of the white middle class intelligencia. This is a historical fact. Progress had been made over the years to become more inclusive and reflective of the community at large mainly as a matter of benevolent foresight of the White Progressives at the helm. Progressive changes in programming thusly are "tangible" resources since they can be measured in terms of the size of the audience they reach and the money those programs bring in but by that same standard they must also be compared to other programs that appeal to more affluent donors that do nothing to increase the network's diversity. By themselves these measures are empty from the standpoint of fulfilling the mission or assessing the networks success along those lines. It is the INTANGIBLE resources that offer that metric. In this case a relevant intangible resource could be the passion a person feels for a particular program or the frequency with which in a person's activism in the community he or she will reference the station ( i.e; "I heard about this issue on the show; 'Get Off Yer Ass And Do Something About It' on WBAI". In that way the benevolent Nation reader who cuts a check for $100 out of a blithe sense of civic duty is a lesser resource than the dirt poor community activist who has no money to contribute but who tirelessly responds announcements of opportunities for political action and who in turn builds an audience for the station among his or her peers.

A board or manager or a programmer who loses sight of this is in effect neglecting the maintenance of a critical component of the overall system ( allowing the wood to rot) and that, in very simplistic terms describes the conditions which precipitated the springing of the leak. In the valiant mutiny that ensued the ship's crew set the Blye and his loyalists adrift in the dingy and successfully averted the iceburg Blye was navigating directly toward but unless we address the intangible resources ( which in my view spring directly

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from the degree to which Pacifica is living up to its mission) then we are heading back to sea while still taking on water and Blye's private reserve of champagne which we have been reveling in will soon run out. I look at the successful fund drives of late as a temporary reprieve and this leaky ship is headed due North.

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel!

The question then asks itself: if not corporate style management, then what? It is indeed on this question of whether or not this "corporate" approach can be reformed to serve needs beyond itself that we find the true dividing line between today's radicals and liberals. Liberals believe that there is nothing essentially wrong with the standard corporate approach to everyday productive and retail enterprise, as well as to nonprofit endeavors. It is only a matter of making them more democratic, or "representative." Radicals reject this paradigm out of hand, noticing that corporate power is all of a piece, whether in the profit or non-profit sector, and that many of the same foundations and other plutocratic institutions end up in de facto control of the direction of both.

Well, if corporate-style boards (like Pacifica's)have a demonstrated tendency to recapitulate the politics of alienation, what is the alternative? Most people are aware of only one alternative: the "statist" (centralist/ideological) paradigm, and the Cooperative approach. The history of the Cold War has given many of us a fair taste of the former paradigm. In abreaction to the tyranny of private capital, the statist opposes a tyranny of ideological control. Market forces are replaced by dogmatic ideology as the ruling force. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) most modern progressives have renounced both of these models as essentially dictatorial, as not conducive to true intellectual freedom and as ultimately stifling of creativity.

Also fortunately, a "third way" does exist. It has been gestating beneath the surface of capitalist political economy for about a century and a half and is called Cooperation. Cooperatives consist of essentially two types: "producer cooperatives," where an industrial or service establishment is directly owned by the workers involved, and "consumer cooperatives," wherein a (usually) retail enterprise is owned and operated by the very people who are the end-users of its product or service, who cooperate to undertake the tasks normally performed by the various "middle men" in the capitalist economic system, in order to assure quality and save expense. It is this latter model which naturally suggests itself for emulation by Pacificans.

Evan strongly agrees with this, but adds:

I would expand [this analysis] later, though, to include the notion of "vertical integration" and "primary" versus "secondary" cooperatives since the Policy

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Governance model posits that the 5 stations ( the "primaries") federate and inaugurate the national board as a "secondary" cooperative tasked with holding the licenses and providing management services.

Obviously Evan's suggestions here provide a useful framework for expanding the dialogue in fruitful directions, especially in helping to redefine the role of the PNB to the stations.

I noted with more than a little interest this item from the early history of Pacifica radio as related by Neil Maclean:

"After the first six months of broadcasts in the world's first attempt to create a subscription-based station, only 130 listeners had subscribed. The network closed down and carried on a community outreach campaign. The Berkeley Food Co-op and the region's Unitarian Society's were the base for this outreach effort."
In my view, the involvement of the Berkeley Food Co-op in this successful rescue effort was far from accidental. This co-op undoubtedly instinctively recognized in the nascent listener-supported radio station a kindred movement - its consanguinity with consumer-Cooperation. Here was an opportunity tragically missed for the spirit of the cooperative movement to have penetrated the Pacifica foundation, to have helped it orient itself to a cooperative rather than a corporate approach to its organizational form. Had such folks come to prevail in the Pacifica Board from an early date, the infusion of this influence could have led in short course to a truly democratized structure, with the locus of ultimate accountability reposing in the body of (progressive/cooperative) listener-subscribers.

However we might rue this lost opportunity for synergy, it is never too late to make up for it. Indeed, refocusing on this cooperative approach to Pacifica management and process is exactly what is needed today.

Towards a Pacifica Co-op

I assume that most people reading this essay have a basic understanding of the cooperative approach to enterprise. Obviously, the traditional model could not be adopted verbatim by Pacificans for this reason: actual ownership of the Pacifica stations legally rests with the Pacifica Foundation. This is as it should be, always assuming that the members of the PNB are actively promoting the implementation of Pacifica's mission at the station level. However, it is entirely possible to adapt the consumer-cooperative approach to the real conditions of Pacifica as a way of ultimately democratizing it, and helping it thereby to fulfill its original mission. What follows is a visionary approach to just this possibility, intended not as a technical blueprint, but rather as an inspiration to those who understand the inimicability of the existing corporate-board

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model to the needs and mission of Pacifica, and the consequent need for an alternative model to replace it:

The Pacifica National Board

   Board members would be chosen always with reference to their commitment to cooperative values and organization of Pacifica. Some board members would be actively recruited who have had some experience in cooperative management (which differs in fundamental ways from corporate management). The fundamental task of the PNB, in addition to its inexorable fiduciary responsibilities, would be to monitor the program content of Pacifica-owned stations to insure its congruency with the mission of the Pacifica Foundation, and to ascertain that Pacifica's resources were being fully utilized to that end. The Board would periodically issue a completely transparent periodic budget report, and assess levies for its own support to the various stations in an equitable way, which would then need to be formally reviewed and approved at each station co-op level. A secondary but vital function of the PNB would be to promulgate community radio in population areas presently not served by Pacifica or other alternative, community radio (as well as to expand Pacifica's affiliate network) and to investigate the possibilities of Pacifica broadcasting via other media (such as TV, the Web, etc.) [Note: this paragraph is from the original version. Evan's proposal (see following note) advocates greater autonomy for the station vis a vis the PNB.]

The Pacifica-Station Listener Coop

    Each co-op would consist of all dues-paying listener-sponsors in a given signal area, including those serving as volunteer programmers. Each contributing household would have a voice and a vote in the general assembly for the Pacifica-owned station in question. Qualifications for membership would consist of explicit endorsement of Pacifica's mission, and a financial contribution to Pacifica's operational expenses commensurate with household income level (see discussion below). All decisions regarding the station, especially including funding and expenditures, would be made by this body. Programming policies at the station would be ultimately accountable to this consumer cooperative (within the scope of the Pacifica mission), which would hire and fire any and all station managerial personnel. (The Pacifica National Board would no longer have anything directly to do with selecting station personnel.)

Evan here recalls his earlier alternative suggestion: The model I see working is to have the national board supply the managers on a contractual basis ( "manager on contract"). The national board also has to have legal accountability for and from the managers as the sole employees entrusted with the stewardship of the broadcast licenses.

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A Brief Discussion of Progressive Listener/Subscriber-Financing of a Cooperative Pacifica

Evan writes, continuing his earlier remarks on this subject:

First of all our most crucial target audience is the one with the least money to contribute. On the one hand we might hope to , as Steven Starr envisioned, make up for that with sheer numbers but what even Starr overlooked at least in that portion of my interview with him was that the folks with less money also require more convincing to get them to part with their $5 than the Volvoista requires before cutting that $100 check. That's an argument for more relevance in programming and better access for the folks we need to reach but it is also an argument for including those disadvantaged listeners as "owners" or "members" AND FOR SETTING A LOW FINANCIAL THRESHOLD FOR MEMBERSHIP. Remember; we are seeking the intangible ( commitment/ loyalty/ interaction/ volunteerism) as well as the tangible ( cash) resources.

If applying the cooperative model on the macro scale this is also a strong argument for fuller inclusion of the Affiliates ( "cooperation among Cooperatives" and for eventual advocacy of the cooperative model within the larger community of community radio.

This prepares us for the next step in our discussion, a consideration of progressive financing of Pacifica by its listener-subscribers, following from the Cooperative principle of "equity," (See Appendix I: Cooperative Values).

   The "price of admission" to a station co-op, or "stake" that would make one a stakeholder, would vary with household income level. Just as the grass-roots cooperative model opposes itself to the top-down corporate model, so the progressive dues structure of a cooperativized Pacifica opposes itself to the current approach, which caters to upscale donors. As demonstrated in the model which follows, the progressive nature of this membership requirement could go well beyond a simple "percentage of income" approach to funding,. But first we must clarify the philosophical basis of this focus on household income.

   There is no more significant correlate of a person's socio-economic status than disposable household income. It is economic lifestyle, measured by claims on the product of industry, that best operationalizes the concept of "class" in our time. Personal income is no secure measure of this. People who live in multiple-income households do not consume according to personal income, but according to household income. Obversely, the best predictor of the "class interest" of an individual is the relative position of his or her family's total income, hence, of its level of aggregate (vs. personal) level of consumption. (It is to be hoped as well that Pacifica broadcasts are also "consumed" by family households, and not merely by individuals, though clearly this is not always the case . . .)

   So much for the sociological argument. Politically, we recall again that the existing Pacifica approach is to focus appeals on those who can afford to expend the most to support Pacifica, after which their economic privilege is translated into a degree of political privilege, expressed by the de-radicalization of program content in favor of inoffensive entertainment-oriented fluff. Thus, in the

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existing corporate model, the economic power of the affluent translates into political power, protecting rather than challenging social privilege. A cooperative Pacifica would reverse this trend, and by doing so, incarnate the values with which the progressive movement seeks to imbue society at large: economic empowerment of the disenfranchised, promoting their political empowerment.

   Economically, then, we would be embracing the old progressive principle of "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." People of no means (the homeless, the incarcerated) would contribute nothing financially, and where possible make any contribution in the form of "sweat equity" (performing a few hours of useful volunteer work around the station). Households of very limited means would pay a nominal amount, with a suggested minimum dues requirement of $12 per year, or $1 per month (anyone who can afford a radio can generally afford $1 per month, but sweat equity would always exist as an option). Now, bearing in mind that this is only an example of how it could work, and not a proposal carved in stone, let us say that our progressive, or graduated dues assessment might work something like this: Households with less than $20,000 annual income pay the minimum (which actually works out to about .01% of annual household income). For higher-income families:

Household income % Assessement $ Median Payment
$20,000-$29,999 .02% ($50)
$30,000-$39,999 .03% ($105)
$40,000-$49,000 04% ($180)
$50,000-$59,000 .05% ($275)
$60,000-$69,999 .06% ($390)
(Etc.) (Etc.) (Etc.)
$100,000-$110,000 1.0% ($1050)
$110,000-$120,000 1.1% $1265)
(Etc.) (Etc.) (Etc.)

Such an approach assures that everyone "pays his/her dues," but dues are assessed (on the honor system, of course) progressively, assuring EQUITABLE payment (rather than EQUAL payment) for each member household. In this way, economic justice (distributive justice) is incorporated into the very structure of the organization. [Under such a system, not only would the Rockefeller Brothers not insinuate themselves into Pacifica's news reports via sponsoring foundations, but if they wanted to openly join, they would undoubtedly find the cost prohibitive!] In a sense, this approach serves as a means test for participants: either they must demonstrate a low income, or be willing to sacrifice considerably more of a higher one in order to gain membership to the co-op.

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Such an approach serves to assure that the class-orientation of the station will not be usurped by dilettantes.

   Of course, there is no guarantee that such an approach to funding would "cover the nut." Shortfalls might still have to be made up in the traditional ways, assuring that those who wished to contribute something to Pacifica, but not to the extent of paying full dues, would still have a role to play in helping to fund Pacifica, a role not very much different from that offered to most listener-supporters at the present time (except that they would be getting a lot more for their money!).

Progressive underwriting helps address race issues

    A word about the issue of race: an approach such as this indirectly but effectively addresses this question in the one way this can be done progressively: as a substratum of the larger "social question". Racial minorities typically disproportionately come from working-poor families. This dues structure would entitle each of them to a fully equal voice and vote in the direction and programming of their local Pacifica station, while asking of them very little financial support in return. In this way, the participation of people of color in the co-op is facilitated TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY ARE ECONOMICALLY OPPRESSED. Any other way of addressing the issue of race runs a most serious risk of reinstituting elitism, favoring the most economically advantaged among the various racial minorities. (Should Condoleeza Rice be given any more consideration than a white single parent working for minimum wage? Yet this is where such logic leads, like other attempts to view the issue of color in isolation from the larger social problem, that of class oppression.)

    Secondly, it is assumed that the New Pacifica will eagerly and openly invite all groups who can help fulfill its mission to submit their ideas, and to come to the station to learn the skills to do progressive radio. If there turn out to be more good ideas than there is programming space, that would not be a problem! Cooperatives who reach their natural limits commonly employ a principle called "hiving off." A second Pacifica station could be underwritten in the same signal area with start-up funds from the first. (What a luxury! Imagine having two progressively-oriented Pacifica stations to choose from in the same signal area!)

Evan interjects:
We're such a very long way from this but rather than having additional Pacifica stations compete within a single signal area why not devolve the "overage" in to a network of additional community services. Why not have the "folio" expand in to a larger publication or to set up a bigger more diverse apprenticeship program or to use the additional resources to sponsor events like speeches and teach-ins and to produce documentaries or provide discounted Internet service and computer training, etc. or to establish a progressive lending library? Each of these projects could be a separate cooperative venture and together these separate Pacifica sponsored cooperatives would form a sort of caucus on the local board?

    Thirdly, initial recruitment of membership for the co-op and for local programming (the two tend to go hand-in-hand) would tend naturally to focus on those under- represented by the existing programming structure (or lack thereof) of their local Pacifica station. These will include a

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disproportionately large number of organizations of people of color, who have the weakest voice in current media. I have in mind especially immigrant organizations, advocates for the homeless, for the victims of the drug war and other aspects of the prison-industrial complex, welfare-rights organizations, as well as those groups formed for the self-defense of the various ethnic groups involved. (Presumably, it would fall to the program staff to routinely reach out to these groups, and encourage their participation in community radio.)

    In sum, we could say that a disciplined adherence to Pacifica's mission as well as a reasonable assurance of fiscal viability both constitute necessary conditions of a successful Pacifica. Neither, in the absence of the other, will suffice. The PNB of the 90's, before its more recent profligacy, focused on the second at the expense of the first, while any plan of action that focuses on the first without addressing the second runs a serious risk of an equal and opposite error: the same one that precipitated the advent of the ousted regime at Pacifica: those virtual philistines whose one talent was "making the trains run on time." The only reasonable hope to circumvent future crises at Pacifica, whether political or financial, is the development, promotion and implementation of a plan that addresses both of these questions overtly and effectively. It is our belief that a progressive-cooperative approach to the organization of Pacifica would best accomplish both of these conditions.

Evan adds:

. . . the ideology of commercialism is not the only threat to our success and I believe this is why the Rochdale pioneers also held to a policy of political ( meaning partisan) "neutrality". This is important because the cooperative model, though revolutionary in many ways is independent of any of the more traditional ideological world views. That is not to say our model can't be equally embraced by people with a variety of ideological backgrounds or that in itself it is blind to the inherent class struggle but rather just to emphasize that where our model functions with a "mission" component the mission we have already, Pacifica's, is a good one and is adequate to our present needs.

Afterthought: Toward a Cooperative "University of the Airwaves"

What made Pacifica a radical project, I think, is that it was created as a project of education for the purpose of countering the propaganda of commercial media (in that case, which was beating the drums of the Cold War)

There is a real difference between education (in its finest sense) and propaganda. Education strives to give people the tools to understand and effect their world; propaganda aims to control and manipulate. It does not result in free and critical thought.

I need to emphasize again that the genesis of the Pacifica coup was the plan to turn Pacifica into a propaganda outlet for the Dems, and this is why the leftists were so brutally attacked - to hide from the hoped-for-recruits other possibilities and analyses

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which would not cast a favorable light on their milieu.

The Pacifica that changed my life actually had a range of views. It was over time, by hearing a variety of analyses and facts, that transformed and educated me. The more I learned the more radical my views became. It gave me the tools to read between the lines. These analyses gave me the tools to see social realities as a whole, instead of as fragments. They made me not only think about what I believed, but why I believed those things. It made me justify my own positions to myself. It took to me where the powers-that-be don't want us to go - to question the base assumptions of the social order. And to notice that these questions were nowhere else being raised, and to ask why.

I believe that giving the facts and analysis about what actually happens in the world will radicalize anyone who comes seeking understanding.

Our so-called educational system is one of indoctrination, designed to make us "useful members of society" in other words, obedient servants. Pacifica must offset that with real education, one that expands the ability of people to think and reason, to question and challenge, and to reject obedience and self- deprecation, exploitation and manipulation - the stock-in-trade of social conditioning and control.

This teaching of the habits of freedom can only exist in an atmosphere of freedom, and litmus tests are antithetical to that. Critical thought cannot flourish in an environment with mandatory exclusions.

Who decides what is "left?" Mary Frances Berry has a very clear idea of what "progressive" means to her.

People who hold positions of responsibility in Pacifica should demonstrate a dedication to an enviroment of intellectual curiousity, a desire to support an environment where people are engaged in a serious search for truth, and an absolute commitment to support, and not impede that search, wherever it may lead.

Let everything be tested and examined. The media system prevailing in the country today strives to prevent that examination precisely because the lies will not stand up to serious scrutiny.

If we can only give the American people the information about what is actually happening, that will be the most radicalizing act we can perform.

  - Lyn Gerry "Education and Propaganda" (August 2001)

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While the consumer-cooperative model, as described above, does to a large extent respond to the basic needs of listener-subscriber-"owned" radio is this idea capable of further refinement? Actually, it is. Though far less common than consumer retail cooperatives, or even than producer-cooperatives, there do exist here and there examples of educational cooperatives. These would be cooperatives whose primary purpose is the education of the cooperative's "owners," in which the "students" make the democratic decisions about the direction and method of their education. It this sounds too idealistic and "upside down" to some of us, we have only to recall that it is actually a very old idea. At a website called "Britain Express" I discovered the following reference under "Medieval Schools:"
Education, school life, and the founding of Oxford University: Students. University students chose their own course of studies, hired their own professors, and picked their own hours of study. They were free to leave one professor if they tired of him, and join another, attending several lectures before deciding whether to pay him or not.
History itself thus demonstrates that university education was once a very self-directed thing, and provides a useful precedent for Pacifica when considered, as some call it, the "university of the airwaves."

Simply put, the model would institute Pacifica as an educational cooperative, in which every subscriber (i.e. "underwriter") recognized the educational mission of Pacifica, and sought to promote it. While this may seem a subtle distinction, it could help inform programming decisions around a strictly educational purpose, leading to journalism that informs, public affairs programming that instructs, and artistic offerings that edify. The distinction Evan made earlier between the needs and the "preferences" of the listeners might be more usefully explored in a strictly educational context: what does the listening community feel it NEEDS to be more educated about. What obvious pockets of local ignorance need to be filled by securing programming that addresses them?

Borrowing again from Evan's model of the PNB or national office of Pacifica serving as secondary cooperative, in other words, a cooperative of primary cooperatives designed to serve the needs and facilitate the work of the primary cooperatives, I have discovered a model of such an educational service cooperative, and I urge readers to study it on line at their convenience. A brief outline of the purposes and structure of Minnesota's Southeast Service Cooperative is appended to this paper for reference. The website address is http://www.ssc.coop/. An additional example of some relevance is the Edivisions cooperative, also of Minnesota: http://www.edvisions.com/ As far as cooperative schools themselves go, they are very rare in this country, but one exists here in Berkeley, California. According to Kim Koontz, academic coordinator for the Center for Cooperatives at University of California, Davis, Maybeck High School " is technically a worker co-op (teacher controlled) but consensus and other forms of democratic decision making on interwoven into just about every aspect of their program."

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Appendix I: Cooperative Values

In his definitive work, Cooperative Principles Today and Tomorrow (1986, Holyoake Books). W. P. Watkins explicates the principles that underlies cooperative theory and practice. "It seems reasonable," he writes, "to seek the elements of the Co-operative idea in certain fundamental and universal facts or situations of human nature and experience:

  • First, there is man himself, a social animal, gregarious, living in communities, dependent on his fellow-man not only for physical survival but also for spiritual stimulation and growth. Association is instinctive but it is also deliberate because of its advantages, expressed universally in the proverb 'Union is strength,' and it many variants.
  • Second, there is the condition of man's continued existence on this planet: labour to produce and distribute the necessities of physical and intellectual life. It is through measuring the results of their labour against the efforts and sacrifices required to obtain them that men learn to mane their resources and so evolve the idea of Economy. From the union of Association and Economy springs division of labour, that inexhaustible source of material benefits and higher standards of living.
  • Third, what men produce by their combined labour must necessarily be distributed. If production be social, most consumption cannot help being individual. Distribution, however, must not simply satisfy men's wants, but also their moral sene by being fair, just and equitable, taking into account individual contributions as well as individual needs.
  • Fourth, if men's combined labours are to be efficient and fruitful, they must be well organised and directed. Organisation demands a system of government, an accepted authority of making and executing decisions on what shall be done and how it shall be done. In modern times, in all sorts of associations, the tendency is for those who exercise authority to be answerable to the whole body of those for and over whom it is exercised or, in other words, for government to be more or less democratic.
  • Fifth, there is man's unquenchable aspiration to be free. Though he is dependent on his neighbours, he also desires to be, as far as possible, independent of them, in order to be himself and to fulfil himself in his own way. In any event, he gives of his best only when he devotes himself to what he freely undertakes, when his participation in combined effort is not compulsory but voluntary - in short, when his will is engaged.
  • Sixth, man's life is one of continual adaptation - to his own changing needs, as he grows through childhood and youth into old-age, and to the social order around him. The life of human societies, their security and well-being attain a high level only when men are enlightened enough to direct the forces of nature and to accept the need of order and discipline in their mutual relations. Education, including reeducation, in this sense is indispensable to social stability welfare and progress.(pp.10-11)

Corresponding to the six social facts . . . are six Co-operative Principles as follows: Association (or Unity); Economy; Equity; Democracy; Liberty; Education. (p.13) [Note: The text above is copied verbatim from the original. Male pronouns are understood to be inclusive of both genders. Italics and bold-faced type were added.]

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Appendix II: Minnesota Service Cooperatives, purpose and organization http://www.ssc.coop/ http://www.mnservcoop.org/purpose.htm

Minnesota Service Cooperatives

Purpose - To perform planning on a regional basis and to assist in meeting specific needs of clients in participating governmental units which could be better provided by a Service Cooperative than by the members themselves.

Declaration of Policy - To make general and uniform opportunities available to all member agencies in the state; to encourage cooperation in programs and services most efficiently and economically provided by a consortium of several public/governmental agencies.

Design of the Service Cooperative - The boundaries of nine of the designated Service Cooperative's shall coincide with the governor's planning regions. State planning and development regions one and two shall be combined to form a single Service Cooperative.

State planning and development regions six east and six west shall be combined to form a single Service Cooperative.
State planning and development regions seven east and seven west shall be combined to form a single Service Cooperative.
The Service Cooperative shall cooperate with the corresponding regional development commission but shall not be responsible to it nor governed by it.

Two or more Service Cooperative's may, upon approval by a majority of the members in each affected Service Cooperative be combined and administered as a single Service Cooperative.

Membership - Public school districts of the state shall have full membership. Nonvoting associate memberships are available to nonpublic administrative units. Membership will also be offered to cities, counties, and other governmental agencies and non-profits. All memberships are voluntary.

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