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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Revolution is a Rhizome

Click here to access article from AdBusters.

AdBusters has been given a lot of credit for inspiring the 2011 Occupy protests, and now on the 2nd anniversary they, with this piece, want to re-inspire young people as they go back to campuses across the country. While enjoying the article's inspiration, I remain skeptical of this effort. For me there are too many nuances of shallowness, of light-weight revolutionary thinking in the article. And, to my dismay, their gullibility is on display by their acceptance of the Empire's allegations about the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons. If they can't see through that lie, how many others do they accept?

They specialize in using "memes" and images to undermine capitalist culture. I may be old-fashioned but it seems to me that memes are to ideology as Twitter is to a book. Or, in other words, they are small, easily comprehended, quickly consumed and transmitted units of thought or images--sort of like the internet's version of a Big Mac. Youthful enthusiasm is charming, but can it build a revolutionary movement? 

Well, let me leave this with a positive thought. Maybe AdBusters have a useful contribution to make to a revolutionary movement simply by their efforts to undermine the values and assumptions of capitalist culture. However, I don't think anyone should take them seriously as leading such a movement, and I hope that they don't either. After all, political vanguards are so 20th century! 

If they humbly see themselves as only contributing to fertilizing the ideological soil of capitalist opposition, then maybe they can help grow a revolutionary rhizome capable of creating a healthy alternative to the weed of capitalism that threatens to destroy humanity and so many other plants in the garden of life on Earth.