Saturday, June 9, 2007

imagine the impossible

"One must have faith of a kind that our history has made nearly inaccessible."
-Ursula Le Guin

"...a whole bunch of us were talking about how we imagine recreating ourselves and our society, and so many said they just couldn't imagine any other way to live..." - excerpt from letter.

Imagine the impossible.

they want us to believe there is no other way to live, that things have always been this way, that there is no way out and no reason to try, no reason to resist. I rememember learning about Paris, 68, when the students took over the university and the workers had a general strike, and the city was shut down, and people talked about what they would want in a post-revolutionary society. On the walls were slogans. It was a time of great slogans. Imagine the Impossible, Make Your Dreams Reality -- Slogans that are these days used for car commercials. But in those days, my parents days (even though my parents were in office buildings and schools and had no involvement in any of this, aside from that my mom read Anis Nin, and my dad loved a history that said white people weren't the first and smartest people on this earth), in those days the slogans meant that plain Marxism wasn't enough anymore. There was something more that movements for social change were going to have to incorporate.

When I was growing up into politics, there was a whole debate about lifestyle anarchism vs social anarchism. (I can't even remember the titles now. Social?? I don't know.) Whatever we were, we hated lifestyle anarchists. We thought focusing on how you lived was a real waste of time and very self-indulgent. I remember one debate we had about Food Not Bombs when that was just starting, and we decided it was more or less just charity, despite it's pretentions of revolutionaryness. We did not live in collective houses because in the 60's people lived in collectives and it turned into such drama and sucked the life out of real social action and organizing. I lived in a little apartment with my dog. I was very lonely.

But there is a thing that is real. My friend Dave said to me the other day -- I know what I want because I have felt it in moments. -- Moments of communication, moments of protest or parade when we move like one being, times of collective decision making when decisions are made with respect and without fighting, moments of creation when true connection is real and present. Living together outside of nuclear family. Building houses together, feeding eachother, dancing. Times when you can see that another world could exist - this is what I ended up liking about lifestyle - trying to figure out a way to live with integrity, how to live in a way that would feed me and ground me and give me inspiration to keep fighting, keep figuring out how to do more outward struggles for social change.

I have a clear utopian vision. Not clear in the details, but clearly I believe that we could have a world without hierarchy and domination. And for me it becomes embodied in the vision of a world without sexual abuse. For someone else maybe it becomes embodied in a world without the torture of animals, or a world without pesticide use, or a world without schools that turn us into robots. A world without racism. A world where culture can flourish without being turned into commodity. A new world. A world we are told we can't imagine -- but we can. Imagine it. Fight for it.

1 comment:

bethlynn said...

I agree that a balance must be struck between personal fulfillment and social responsibility. I know that there are a lot of kids and people who go really hard to either end of that spectrum. Either they are almost completely into anarchism for its aesthetic and artist values, or they are completely detached from the aesthetic and bury themselves in the theoretical and political. Maybe it's not even accurate to say that there are two opposing viewpoints...everyone seems to have a slightly different take on getting to a better world...