We recently posted our first “guest blog” and are thrilled to feature our second contributor, Jonathan Gordon-Farleigh. We were happy to discover STIR, a community-building online magazine that features articles and interviews on radical gardening, community supported agriculture, climate activism, democratic education, permaculture, the resistance to the assault on the university, the occupy movement, the commons, grassroots sports, food justice, cooperatives and much more.
Here is a message from the third (latest) issue by Gordon-Farleigh, STIR’s editor:
At the beginning of The Take, a documentary about the Argentinean Recovered Factories Movement, Naomi Klein shows an interview she had done a few years earlier. After presenting a list of the gruesome acts and horrors of capitalism, the interviewer challenges her by saying, “But you’re not giving us any alternatives?” To this, she later admits, “He had a good point… At a certain point you have to talk about what you’re fighting for.”
The absence of demands from the Occupy Movement has been a conundrum for conventional political commentators. What they have failed to understand is that those who make demands expect an agency, authority, or expert to implement them. Today’s protestors are appealing to themselves, not governments, for social change. This point was nicely made by Nathan Schneider in a recent article in the The Nation, “Thank You, Anarchists.” He says the occupiers have “reminded us that politics is not a matter of choosing among what we’re offered but of fighting for what we and others actually need, not to mention what we hope for.”
This is not to ignore or downplay the crucial role that commentary plays in our understanding of the political and social terrain, but the disproportionate fixation on Washington and London produces mere spectators who can only rely on financial and political elites to save them and who can only be disappointed and failed by them. This read-only political culture dominates our experience of our options and choices. The German comedian Klaus Hansen expresses this reversible point in terms of commercial sport—“Football is like democracy: twenty-two people playing and millions watching.”
Stephen Duncombe, the editor of White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race, says in his interview, “It’s not enough to change people’s minds. You have to change the social, political and economic structures in which they live.” Convincing people that we are in a mess is the easy part, if they need to be convinced at all. Showing people that there are successful and viable ways of producing food, providing education, playing sports, managing resources, and sharing creative content in ways that are not subordinated to profit is what is really at stake.
This is exactly what successful community-led campaigns, employee-owned cooperatives, and democracy schools show us: that, as the slogan at last year’s US Social Forum read, not only is “Another world possible…Another world is happening.”