Tuesday, August 30, 2005


You are having an experience that involves being ignored or hearing the same excuses over again - and it's related to issues of equality, rights, oppression etc.

What do you do?

Carry on as usual?
"Hijack" the situation by dominating the conversation with some statements about oppression, making your point and stating that it is unacceptable?
Withdraw your labour, saying that you will not engage until you see evidence of committment to positive action?

Working to make changes on a large scale in the world - what works? Gradual slow change? High impact revolutionary change?

If we gently challenge, over time people suffer anyway - e.g. poverty/ mental illness/ discrimination can entail a long slow painful death/ low quality of life.

If we revolt - this can involve high numbers of victims in the short term.

Which is best?

I tend to vote for revolution.

But then - I also think that staying internally personally committed to values and beliefs and acting accordingly day-in, day-out - whilst it's absolutely draining - if we act together in solidarity, despite not seeing evidence of the impact we have, we know that we are winning. If we stop, we have lost and those in power have won.

Take the anti-Iraq-war protests in the UK. Tony Blair appeared to ignore them, despite the huge numbers of people who took part. So what do we do - stop using our vote in the belief that it's pointless giving our views? Then oppression really has won. Whoever then gets into power is there through apathy. Democracy may be flawed - what isn't. If we don't sign up to the democratic process - we have to identify an alternative that is better.

I can see major faults in what I am saying even as I type - it's such a circular debate..... I know that if we vote against the current power, then the opposition that we don't want to have in power may get in by default.

Any suggestions?


Sarah said...

Oof. Good luck with this. Some thoughts:

1. Voting is the tiniest part of democracy. Letter writing makes a difference. Phoning politicians makes a difference. Few people do that stuff. I think that keeping in regular contact with representatives, and encouraging other people to do it too, makes more difference than occasional newsworthy protests.

2. My favourite way to think about activism is to think about building a space where my chosen lifestyle works, and then keep making it bigger, and letting other people in on it. Somebody has to do the extremist stuff that changes organized politics, but I have no interest in that. I just work on me and my neighbourhood.

3. All voting systems are not equal. Maybe it is time to think about electoral reform? I know there's a movement going in the UK-- the first pledge I saw on pledgebank was by Brian Eno about pro-rep in Britain.

yclepta said...

no 3 - Pro-rep has been ongoing for many years - but I will look into it more - thanks for the reminder.
no 2 - this tends to be my favoured approach - that's what is appears I have done in my life by default - gathered allies and friends who share my values around me - the circle grows quicker that you think.... I am often tempted to do the extremist stuff and some would say what I (and you) do is extreme (e.g. a website about vaginas etc...
no 1 - I do that too - it doesn;t seem to make much difference - but it's what I meant about keeping at it despite the lack of effect - it seems better than nothing.........