Friday, 27 April 2012

Worth Some Thought

There is no doubt that the world is changing. The need for change is obvious and in many fields; education, politics, economy, social integration and development, the list could go on and on. New right human relations need to be thought about and established. There are many ways to achieve these changes. Experiments, trial and error, are just some of the methods to make progress in these areas. In any given country more than one idea may be developing now, often, in opposition to other ideas of change or on how to achieve it, or to effort to maintain a status qua that no longer holds true.

Among other ideas or social movement we have the Occupy Movement in the United States. It is an interesting social movement that is hard to define and that seems not to have a fully coherent structure and unfolding. Yet, this may be one of its advantages. Recently Noam, Chomsky has been talking about this movement. Here are some of his reflections, as published by Truthout, that I wanted to share with you.

Noam Chomsky has seen a lot of social movements. He cut his teeth on the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He participated in the anti-intervention struggles of the 1980s as well as in the World Social Forums that began in the 1990s. Now in his 80s, Chomsky has hardly slowed down with his schedule of writing and speaking and agitating. And he is certainly not one to watch the new Occupy movement from the sidelines.
The latest publication from the new Occupied Media Pamphlet Series brings together several of Chomsky’s intersections with the Occupy movement. There’s a lecture he gave at Occupy Boston in October 2011, an interview in January 2012 with a student about the meaning of Occupy, a conference call with hundreds of Occupiers later that same month, a subsequent speech on “occupying foreign policy” at the University of Maryland, and a brief tribute to his friend and co-agitator Howard Zinn.
Having spent so much time thinking about and engaging with social movements, Chomsky is both optimistic about the energy of Occupy and realistic about the challenges it faces. He appreciates the “just do it” ethos and embraces its radical approach to participatory democracy. But he reminds his audiences that all social movements reach further than they can grasp. The influence of money on U.S. politics, the huge weight of the military-industrial complex, the rapaciousness of financial speculation: these are forces not easily dislodged by people gathering together in public spaces and voicing their opinions. And yet, as Chomsky points out, the mostly non-violent, non-funded, and non-partisan set of actions radiating out from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan managed to change the national discussion about economic inequality.
This inequality, he argues, is the result of a 30-year-long class war that has hollowed out the middle class and put great pressure on the poor in the United States. The neoliberal push for privatization and lower trade barriers has carried that war to every corner of the globe. The Occupy movement is pushing back against the actors, the actions, and most importantly the consequences of this class warfare. Not surprisingly, given the vested interests being challenged, the pushback of the 99 percent has generated pushback in turn from the 1 percent.
What makes Chomsky’s perspective so interesting, aside from the wealth of his political experience, is the range of his interests. He draws from examples around the world to demonstrate his points. When talking about community-based media, for instance, he describes a scene from a Brazilian slum where media professionals set up a truck in a public square – to show skits and plays written by people in the community – and then walked around to interview people for their reactions. Why can’t we do something similar in the United States, Chomsky wonders.
It’s a big agenda that Occupy has identified, nothing less than a complete renewal of U.S. society and the U.S. role in the world. Chomsky sees not only the radical agenda but also the radical practice of the Occupiers. “Part of what functioning, free communities like the Occupy communities can be working for and spreading to others is just a different way of living, which is not based on maximizing consumer goods, but on maximizing values that are important for life,” he concludes in this valuable set of remarks and interviews."

Chomsky certainly can make a better analysis of the Occupy movement than myself. I specially like the conclusion: “Occupy communities can be working for and spreading to others is just a different way of living, which is not based on maximizing consumer goods, but on maximizing values that are important for life,” It is worth while to think about this, regardless if we sympathise or not with the Occupy movement.

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1 comment:

  1. Think globally, act locally. Always a good idea, I think.

    Community, community, community. How we need them.

    The Creative Collaborators are just that.



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