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Uprisings, Love and Other Surprises

January 4, 2012

So, it’s on. We have revolutions to the north, to the west, to the south, to the east. All across the world, youth, the unemployed, students, workers and people from all social classes are demanding governments that represent their interests instead of the nepotism and cronyism which have benefitted  a small class of moneyed elite and the political alliances that they make.

So what now? “If the Egyptian uprising wants to progress toward a revolution, it has to push aside all lame liberal voices.” -Asad Abu Khalil.

New governments are being formed in Tunisia and Egypt, yet they mainly reproduce old notions of statehood, power and representation. We are unable to express difference in terms of power. This, so far, has been our human quandary. How to build a government that truly represents the ideas of minority groups instead of excluding or co-opting them? Or, a government that is not divided into majoritarian and oppositional groups?

There are many models for this, yet all of them remain partial. I think, in the coming months, it will be necessary to stick to a radical insistance on thinking that is new, denying all tried paths. Of course, I am not telling my contemporaries anything that they do not already know.

Interesting Questions from the 2011 Revolutions:

1. Is there such a thing as the collective mind? Popular wisdom seems to think so. Can we really think for ourselves at all? Or do we merely pick from a numer of choices that we have cobbled together from media images and societal expectations? Are we just products of our time? If we admit that we do have a collective destiny or situation, that might be the first step towards making a revolution permanently.

2. Activism is an accumulation of small daily acts of resistance. Never underestimate the power of ideas. Ideas in the hands of millions turn into material force, as Karl Marx said. This is why art, culture and media are essential to the continuing global revolution.

3. Don’t be naive about “democracy.” Democracy is not just voting. Americans have had democracy for 200 years and still manage to have one of the highest inequality ratios in the world while perpetrating numerous wars, coups, military assistance and torture centers around the world. Could we form a new system that expresses the real will of the people?

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