We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Intimacy versus Capitalism, Montreal

Click here to access article by Cindy Milstein from her blog, Commons Not Capitalism. 

For readers in the US and elsewhere who have been unable to follow the events in Quebec because of a media news blackout, this is another report which I think captures the spirit of this youth led revolt in that Canadian province against austerity policies resulting in dramatic increases in university tuition. Let me explain some of the terms in her article that may be unfamiliar to you:
  • Grand Prix--see this, this, and this.
  • Bill 78 specifically targets the massive student assemblies and mobilizations in order to break the growing strike and destroy the power of the student union. One member of the Quebec political opposition used the term “Loi Fuck” to refer to the blunt and draconian tool that outlaws public assembly, imposes harsh fines for strike activity (even tacit support), and effectively makes organizing an arrestable offense. The bill also gives more power to the police in enforcing student protest. Indeed, during the last many weeks of escalating street demos, police have repeatedly preempted demonstrations with CS gas, sound grenades, “blast disperser” grenades, and rubber bullets. 
  • cassaroles--saucepans. See this for how they are used as an expression of opposition.
The author explains how intimacy can be, and is, powerful as illustrated in Montreal. She obviously is not referring to sexual intimacy, but the bonds that can be formed when the people have become so disturbed by the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" imposed by capitalist authorities that they are willing to "take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them".
So on this night 49, filled with the warm radiant heat of a summer night, made hotter still by so many people continuing to turn out illegally to march, and the warmth of the bonds we feel when we do so, I’m overcome by the actually existing fact that people can and do act along the lines of an “economy” of gifting and mutual aid and solidarity, backed by the intimacy and love created in our spring uprisings, despite all that capitalism does to beat the life out of us.
See also this, this, and this.