February 7, 2011

Egypt’s Example, and the Future of the Relocalization Movement


On Sunday I wrote about how it looks like an impasse in Freedom Square. The democracy may have to settle in for a long vigil, if this has become an attrition struggle. They’ll have to find a way to maintain themselves. Food, water, shelter, sanitation, security, but just as important, morale, spirit, interest, the sense and reality of worthwhile activity. I suggested they could hold their own Constitutional Assembly right there in the Square. I saw some other suggestions, like Lambert’s for holding a school.
This vigil would be in the spirit of the original ideals of the American Revolution, where their heritage of thought had taught them that freedom is always under assault by power, that to assault freedom is power’s objective nature, and that the only real solution is not to allow power to concentrate in the first place. If a people does decide it must allow some level of concentration, it must strictly limit this to what is necessary, and an essential duty of every citizen is then to remain vigilant against the inevitable attempts of this power to exceed its bounds and assault liberty. As we’ve learned to our sorrow, we did not keep power limited to what was necessary in the first place. As the Federalist and other writings explicitly say, the goal in 1788 was not a free, humanly prosperous society, but to forge the machine of empire. And then we weren’t vigilant against the assaults of this already bloated concentration.
So Egypt leads us back to the project I already mentioned, the possible use of mock Constitutional Conventions. This can help us clarify what exactly needs to be done, as we write it out in the form of amendments. And like I said yesterday regarding the potential for a “mock” Convention in Tahrir Square, if enough people infuse such an activity with their sovereign will, a mock Constitution (which, coming from the people, by definition has more legitimacy than the corrupted system’s Constitutional husk) can evolve into the real Convention, as it takes over legitimacy through merit and acclaim. That’s the same thing as can happen where democratic councils, working on the ground, in the community, taking over responsibilities the government has abdicated, can actually become the legitimate government. It must happen in tandem with it, and in fact the work on the ground is the decisive deed. This requires taking the responsibility, exercising it meritoriously, evolving the consciousness that “we the people are the government”, being acclaimed by a critical mass of democratic people as such, assuming responsibility as such, defending this rightful act of sovereignty against revanchism on the part of those who abdicated.
It looks like all that’s pretty far off for now, even in Egypt where the responsibility and the merit have already been proven, while the abdication is clear. Here in America the abdication is equally clear, but the people’s minds remain more beclouded. But there’s a wondrous evolution going on, as people all over America are spontaneously taking on these responsibilities, for themselves, for their families, for their communities. We’re once again growing our own food, learning to craft our own manufactures, organize these activities among ourselves. This is the relocalization movement. So far there’s not much of an explicit political consciousness infusing it, and the tendency is to omit general political discussion in favor of practical discussion. (Members of my sustainability group don’t even know I write a blog. Subjects like these simply haven’t come up, and I haven’t brought them up either.)
This seems natural. When people are first embarking upon these actions, it’s best to avoid what are bound to be extraneous political squabbles. This is especially true where everyone must realize deep down that today’s system politics are an absolute farce, and where the very fact that one becomes involved in relocalization action is a symptom of losing faith in reformism.
Besides, the actions are so fun, so life-affirming, so worthwhile.
So that’s a stage of the movement’s evolution. But if it’s to be more than a temporary escapism; if it’s to grow, coordinate, survive the already-apparent assaults of the corporate-government system, it will need to develop the political consciousness I discussed above.
We’re starting to take our own responsibility and show our merit. As more and more states and localities go into figurative or literal bankruptcy, we’ll start to take on quasi-governmental responsibilities. Whether or not we can sustain this movement, whether or not we can achieve democratic acclaim and survive the assaults of tyranny, will depend in the end on how well-developed and intrepid our political consciousness becomes.


  1. It looks like Mubarak is making for the exit door. Will his VP be the new tyrant and chief?


    Comment by black swan — February 7, 2011 @ 11:17 am

    • Well, it’s nice to see how honest the Germans have been when they said “never again dictators”.

      But this sounds bogus from the point of view of the democracy. I’m sure everyone’s very concerned about this pig’s “dignity”, but they’d still better make sure they get a straight answer, Is he really going or not?

      Comment by Russ — February 7, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

      • Wait a minute -grab that $40 – $50 Billion on his way out the door. That kind of excess is not only dangerous to society; it belongs to the people of Egypt who’ve been ripped off by Muburak.

        Comment by LeeAnne — February 7, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

      • Yup.

        Comment by Russ — February 7, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  2. Hi Russ,

    Underneath an invitation for you and our friends and our opponents.


    Ik wil niet weten hoe je in je levensonderhoud voorziet.

    Ik wil niet weten waar je naar hunkert, ik wil weten of je durft te dromen van de vervulling van je verlangen.

    Ik wil niet weten hoe oud je bent.

    Ik wil weten of je voor gek durft te staan uit liefde, ter wille van je dromen, ter wille van het avontuur van in leven zijn.

    Ik wil niet weten welke planeten in conjunctie staan met jouw maan.

    Ik wil niet weten of je het centrum hebt bereikt van je smart, of de verraderlijke kanten van het leven je hebben geopend of dat je je levenslust hebt verloren en je je hebt afgesloten uit angst voor nog meer pijn! Ik wil weten of je bij vreugde kunt zijn, de mijne of de jouwe, of je uitbundig kunt dansen en of je extatisch kunt zijn tot in de toppen van je vingers en de puntjes van je tenen, zonder ons te waarschuwen voorzichtig of reeël te zijn of te denken aan de beperkingen van je menselijkheid.

    Ik wil niet weten of het verhaal dat je me vertelt waar is.

    Ik wil weten of je een ander kunt teleurstellen om trouw aan jezelf t zijn; of je het kunt verdragen van verraad te worden beschuldigd en geen verraad te plegen aan jezelf.
    Ik wil niet weten of je trouw en dus betrouwbaar kunt zijn. Ik wil weten of je schoonheid kunt zien, al schijnt de zon niet elke dag, en of je je leven kunt laten ontstaan uit de aanwezigheid van God. Ik wil weten of je kunt leven met falen, jouw falen en mijn falen, en toch aan de oever van een meer kunt staan om ‘ja’! te roepen tegen de zilveren maan.

    Ik wil niet weten waar je woont of hoeveel geld je hebt.

    Ik wil weten of je na een nacht van verdriet en wanhoop opstaat, vermoeid, gekwetst tot in je botten, en voor de kinderen doet wat nodig is. Ik wil niet weten wie je bent of hoe je hier bent gekomen.

    Ik wil weten of je met mij in het centrum van het vuur wilt staan zonder terug te deinzen.

    Ik wil niet weten waar, wat of met wie je hebt gestudeerd.

    Ik wil weten wat je innerlijk steun biedt als al het andere wegvalt. Ik wil weten of je alleen kunt zijn met jezelf en of je in lege momenten werkelijk op je gezelschap gesteld bent.

    De Uitnodiging, geínspireerd door Oriah Mountain Dreamer,
    oude wijze indiaan, mei 1994

    Comment by René — February 8, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    • Well, I can make out “I will” or “I will not”, but the rest of it’s Greek to me.

      Comment by Russ — February 8, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  3. […] the cosmetic “regime change” doesn’t render those signs moot. It still proves the spontaneous skill of the people in ruling themselves.)   While we’re not yet in a revolutionary situation in America, we can still begin forming […]

    Pingback by Notes on Time Banking and Democratic Councils « Volatility — March 23, 2012 @ 5:34 am

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