Earlier, this blog wrote about the need to break free of our present cultural obeisance towards hierarchical control by an elite group of people. Giving up the unquestioning habit of obedience will not be easy. Like any negative habit, it will take an act of will to change.
The good news is that we have many examples from history of both individuals and communities who have pointed the way - from Jesus of Nazareth to the City States of the Renaissance to an experimental Community Company in Devon, England. But it is never easy.
Visions are brought forth from our imagination, sometimes small sometimes world changing. If we do not imagine our own life, somebody else will imagine it for us. All the world is indeed a stage, but most of us simply do as we are told, rather than direct. That is how we have got into the mess we are in today - by simply going along with a perverse vision which prioritizes war and pestilence over grace and harmony. A vision that treats pollution and prostitution as a positive economic activity and treats both nature and people as a resource that can be used up and then cast to one side.
But visions are powerful, transforming, psychological entities, and not to be trifled with. The reason that the USA, with all of it's economic and military power has so consistently and violently attacked Cuba is because the Cuban vision for society is in conflict with the military-industrial-complex vision of the USA. The last thing America wants is an example of a successful, people-oriented society providing, for example, a superior free healthcare system, right in their own back yard. A competing vision must not stand.
In nineteen-thirties Spain, peasants began to form local autonomous working groups - taking control of their own lives. These collectives were voluntary and classless. Decisions were made inclusively - anyone who would be affected by the enactment of a decision needed to be involved in the making of the decision - even if their involvement was not to be involved! By this process decisions take longer to be made, but once made they are implemented much more quickly and effectively. (This was a principle rediscovered by Japanese auto workers in the seventies and eighties and explained the emergence of the Japanese auto industry as a world power.)
The peasants were manifesting a vision in major conflict with the dominant culture. When you realize that around five million people in Spain were involved with these autonomous communities you can see how much of a threat it was to the status-quo. You may be aware of the war in Spain between the fascists and the communists, but you may not realize that neither fascism, nor communism present a threat to the hierarchical control of a small elite. They simply represent different ways of maintaining control. (Check out how J.P. Morgan bankrolled the Russian revolution.)
But five million people working together to build a classless, non-hierarchical society - now, that is a threat that had to be squashed. Which is why, as the Spanish Civil War got going, the first order of business for both the USSR-supported communist revolutionaries and the Hitler-supported fascist government was to get rid of the communes. Which they did - ruthlessly - working hand in hand. Then got on with the more profitable business of fighting each other.
An echo of this story is being played out today. Not that it will be reported as such. Like an American football team, the establishment looks ahead and has a book full of possible 'plays'. Ways of dealing with different situations. The 'plays' are just like the ones you might see in a theater - they have a narrative, a development and a cast of characters. A favorite character, used to frighten the naive is 'Hitler' : "ooh look Saddam is Hitler", "look Gaddafi is Hitler", "look Assad is Hitler", "look Putin is Hitler"! (What, really? come on!!).
Another actor is the 'Anarchist' bogeyman. We all know that anarchists just want to blow things up and create chaos - they have those pointy hats, cloaks and a little round bomb with a fuse sticking out. But that is an establishment perspective. Anarchists do not describe themselves like that, they see themselves as people who want a leveling of society, a more natural, decentralized society without the dominant hierarchical controls that we have now. To supporters of the status-quo this will indeed feel like chaos. But it isn't. It is actually how the natural world, with all it's complexity, including our own body, works.
The 'anarchist' meme has been important in discrediting the vision of the Spanish peasants. And it is happening again today. This blog is indebted to a powerful article by Adam Curtis, entitled 'Anarchy in Kurdistan' which illuminates how two very different men, Murray Bookchin and Abdullah Ocalan, inspired Kurds in Northern Syria to create free, autonomous communities - modeled on anarchist ideas. One of their free enclaves is much in the news now - the city of Kobane, on the border with Turkey.
This is where the story gets sinister. While the Islamic State has control of Anbar Province in Iraq and threatens the suburbs of Baghdad, strangely, the Pentagon does not seek to stop them there or in other cities which thousands of US soldiers died for. Instead, the Pentagon has joined with ISIS and Turkey in attacking Kobane. Of course, the narrative is that the Pentagon is using precision-guided bombs and missiles against known terrorist positions. But we have too much video evidence of the collateral damage inevitably caused by such 'surgical' strikes to believe that. The real casualty will be the city of Kobane and it's independently minded Kurds.
Sounds familiar? Remember remember - a countervailing vision can not stand - it must be destroyed, before it is seen as a genuine alternative. But this 'play' is losing it's power, it does not work so well for the majority of us, those who pay the price.
After a while, we stop looking at the play and start questioning the story. We start to reflect on the deeper message, on different endings, on an outcome we might prefer. Gradually the dream passes and we wake up to a different world. A world for which we are all responsible, a world rich in vitality, a beautiful world in which we can feel at home.
Reality is that which prevails. As we realize a new world, it will always have been our destination.
Posted by Nicholas Moore 6:03:42 pm