How can an anti-statist and sometime agrarian be a socialist?
Well, I've given the thought of what socialism would really mean in practice and how it could come about a lot of thought and I've come to the conclusion that if the State is not the agent the people have to be the foundation that socialism is based on.
Without the State, that conveniant fallback for uncreative reformers, what puts socialism into practice is regular people, educated in liberty and self realized, who take responsability for administering decentralized programs for production, distribution, and, most importantly, for social services.
Health care under socialism would work best if it was decentralized and administered at the town level by people who are connected with the community and can work out the problem of finacing and running socialized health care on the local level, with perhaps the financial help of comrades in other adjacent areas to even things out.
The same goes for education, for labor, of course, and for any other social program that would effect a great many people's lives.
The catch is that to do all of this wonderful stuff we need a widely educated and self confident citizenry that knows themselves, knows their history, knows their region, and can take the responsability for putting ground beneath the idealistic castles they make in the sky.
They can't be "educated" in some sort of left wing indoctrination, either, they have to be educated to be full human beings. Once people realize what they are, who they are, and what they can be and do they tend to take action and be more succesful in taking action, to make their world a better place.
In this I think that the early Mao, before the Cultural Revolution, was right: you have to create consciousness of liberty and of what's at stake and what's possible before any large scale transformation can take place.
How do you move Chinese peasants who've been in a system of imperial administration and beurocracy for a thousand years into managing their own affairs and their own towns? By education and by building up a somewhat 'cultural' awareness of what's at stake, which can then be used as a bulwark from which material action in the form of agitation and social change and reconstruction can take be based off of.
Ironically, for the biggest material change you need the biggest non-material change there is, the change of how people think about themselves and about their world. That's what I mean by 'cultural', which I keep in quotes, nothing more.
So, yes, Socialism is more than possible, and it can be carried out and put into place without a large state beurocracy calling all the shots, but it takes people to do that.
Therefore, if we want to create real, positive, social change, we have to invest in communities and in people, in popular education and in building awareness. Again, not in the service of some leftwing ideal which undercuts the genuineness of all of this. Educate people about these things honestly and the political awareness will come.
I like the idea which has been put into action in central America of base communities---liberation theologists and church groups establish friendly base communities where a majority of the people in these largely rural, impoverished areas, agree with liberation theology and are willing to change the way they run their village and education system in order to concretely work with developing and building a culture based on a real understanding and implementation of those ideals.
We don't have to build isolated base communes for building socialism, but the experience and the idea behind it point to what's needed for an actual effort to that: education plus experience.
It can work, and, in my estimation, the transition to socialism is just that---a transition which is only as good as the people who make it up.
I disown the idea that a revolutionary state can come to power and establish "the essentials" of socialism and then wait for the populace to catch up. The populace is the nation, and if they aren't socialist then there's nothing any group can do to make it so.
So, realistically, there'll probably be a large portion of time when the country is partially liberal and partially socialist...
But all of this is possible, nonetheless. All it requires is people.
People are our future, and with a self confident citizenry we can do anything.