Monday, May 19, 2008

freebellions - part 2

Many people now assume that a pitiless chaos is on the horizon. A chaos birthed and driven by a social system based on hierarchy and exploitation. Our fragile biosphere is sick. Its health is deteriorating fast. The symptoms are desertification, global warming, diminishing sunlight, widespread cancer, mass extinction, etc. Our planet is obviously in peril. This crisis has been caused by the urban ways of industrial capitalism and by centralized authority. It is maintained by our belief in ideologies. Our way out is to collectively de-massify, de-industrialize and de-commodify. We can feed and shelter ourselves without governments, without markets and private property and the Way of Seeing that these institutions and means are rooted in. It is to create our habitats as we are simultaneously created by them, thus reestablishing a healthy relationship with our environment.
Unfortunately every crisis is compounded by the existence of yet other crises on our horizon: nuclear waste waiting to sit up like a corpse and spread its death, the ongoing possibility of nuclear war, the disappearance of the protective ozone layer, complete ecological meltdown, global illness by new viral strains. The warning lights are blinking wildly, the alarms are getting louder, the elders are warning us; it’s urgent. Our future is shrinking.
Is resistance futile? No. Is all intentional action reactive? No. Will there always be seeds of the old world in the revolt for the new? Perhaps, but a genuine rebellion won’t be fertile ground for them to get established. Liberating cities, towns, islands and regions from mass, authoritarian civilization is possible. We are all potential agents of change. By emphasizing local resistance, our strengths become more obvious and defeatism wanes.

This isn’t to say that mass upheaval doesn’t happen, we know this would be untrue, it is to say that a small group can’t simply decide to create them. They are born of external conditions and uncontrollable variables. These ruptures, as a strategy, find their basis in waiting, and I’m exploring willful ruptures among friends, neighbors and comrades.

Where do rebellions originate? They originate where people spend a lot of time together and therefore know each other enough to have shared their misery and their desires, to have built some trust: ghettos, neighborhoods, prisons, reservations, along tribal or kinship lines.
Of course any individual who wants to make a break, who wants to live an intense life can. This is making one’s life a cause sufficient unto itself. These folks can inspire others, can implicitly give others permission to stand up and shine and flourish, but everything is left to chance as far as a conscious strategy is concerned. At least when such individuals are embedded somewhere, are surrounded by friends and neighbors with whom they have tried to have real relationships, the virus can take hold, the contagion can spread. If they are embedded only in a milieu, then the infection will likely be contained by its extremely narrow demographic limits. In general, subcultures, tendencies and milieus consist primarily of mobile participants with shallow roots and thus will never be the basis for anything other than short-term, limited expressions of rebellion: demonstrations, zines, internet forums, discussion groups, conferences. Occasionally these radical elements can intervene in a genuine opposition, one that they themselves did not instigate, in order to expose and confront its directors and representatives. But again, I’m exploring the possibilities for collective, conscious refusal that has some long term potential.

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