Celebrating the Spirit of Rebellion
Following on the heels of deep transformation, this month, Positively Revolting celebrates the Spirit of rebellion. Today is Guy Fawkes day--
Remember, Remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I know no reason why gunpowder and treason
Should ever be forgot.
Well, I know that originally that rhyme was to warn all future generations that treasonous activities don’t pay off, but I’ve always looked at it a bit differently.
Those of us who thirst for a new world, a world based on truth, beauty, compassion, and connection,
work to get it by various means. We build community through daily interactions, choosing to support local economies and sustainable practices. We teach ourselves and one another cooperative ways of relating to each other and the planet.
But what to do with the world of domination-- the world of corporate rule and business as usual? How do we get through to people who believe that a good life is to serve one’s corporate masters to get the latest car / x-box / i-phone / or what have you? For people stuck in that hamster wheel, comfort feels like freedom. And yet, one caught seldom seems happy in their lot-- they seek ever flashier consumer goods to reward themselves for working in a situation that is ultimately unsatisfying, and leaves them feeling too drained to do little more than watch television for about 4 1/2 hours per night.
That television viewing is actually rather important in keeping the cycle going-- as for that time, the viewer is in a suggestible state, and having their choices for a quiet life validated through faux news stories and adverts for ever more glorious consumer goods to make your life better, and give you more sex appeal, (that you’ll be too tired to use).
Following on the theme of transformation from last week, I want to discuss the transformation of this culture-- out with the old, in with the new. We need a broad based coalition to resist the dumbing down of our culture, to recognize corporate rule does not serve our interests, to put a stop to the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex. We need to put the message out there in such a way as to make it easy to spot the connections between topics: connect the dots.
Walt Whitman said: Resist much, obey little. (Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.)
That’s from Walt Whitman’s Caution:
TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.
I would say that this is nearly true for individuals, as well. Once a person develops unquestioning obedience, they are enslaved to the system. The system doesn’t need a lot of overt help in keeping people in line, as most are very capable of doing it for them, and our internalized oppressor tries to keep us from experiencing our full lives. Following those impulses, after all, might may shake things up, could frighten the horses......
Guy Debord wrote about the decline in our real social / personal lives as “the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing." He called this the spectacle, in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which "passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity". Think: Keeping up appearances; keeping up with the Jones’. Think bigger, faster hamster wheels.
In the 60s, he wrote of needing to disrupt this spectacle, through the creation of a bigger spectacle to draw conscious attention to the otherwise unseen. To do this, one consciously creates a situation in which life, "which involves using spectacular images and language to disrupt the flow of the spectacle."
So, how to do just that? Breaking free- unchaining minds, and existances from corporate fetters.
11 years ago, thousands of people focused on the WTO meeting in Seattle. Amidst police violence and provacatuer actions, there was a joyous noise-- a carnival like atmosphere of giant puppets, street theater, music, art, and rebellion.
While not wholly new, such a din broke through the numbed passive minds, hooked to the telly for their daily intake of so-called news. Just as Debord said it could. And the effect was palpable, until the events of 9-11 quashed dissent, period.
Many people ran like frightened children back to big daddy for protection-- and big daddy told us all that the things that will keep us safe are war and shopping. Really? Jesus-- really??? And most people fell for that.... drifting back into a complacency that feels comfortable, at least at first... but that unsatisfying, alienated feeling keeps coming back around the edges, and unexamined, the first impulse is to buy something to fill it. And the cycle continues, even after big daddies reign had ended.
We must go bravely forward, once more. Reclaiming our lives, and unplugging the machine of corporate rule is essential for the survival of this planet, and our own joy.
Coming up on the 26th is Buy Nothing Day. It’s a day set aside to challenge consumerism. While I am more inclined to absolutism on the day, many have argued that it is a fine time to focus on local and sustainable business-- to conduct business that supports our communities. In either case, it’s still a fine day to use as a focal point to draw attention to the sort of consumerism that destroys the planet, and keeps people running in circles, ever further from their actual desires.
Also, November 22nd- 28th is the Carnivalesque Rebellion week-- a week called internationally for people to create conscious situations.
This is from the Adbusters website:
A few people start breaking their old patterns, embracing what they love (and in the process discovering what they hate), daydreaming, questioning, rebelling? What happens naturally then, according to the revolutionary past, is a groundswell of support for this new way of being, with more and more people empowered to perform new gestures unencumbered by history.
Think of it as an adventure, as therapy – a week of pieing and pranks, of talking back at your profs and speaking truth to power. Some of us will put up posters in our schools and neighborhoods and just break our daily routines for a week. Others will chant, spark mayhem in big box stores and provoke mass cognitive dissonance. Others still will engage in the most visceral kind of civil disobedience. And on November 26 from sunrise to sunset we will abstain en masse – not only from holiday shopping, but from all the temptations of our five-planet lifestyles.
What are your thoughts and ideas on this?