I’m finishing the rewrite of my Nothing Sacred book over the next 8 days; sorry for the slower-than-usual posting schedule, here. I thought I’d share one of the newer ideas that occurred to me as I spoke in Germany and Croatia. It has to do with scalability, and the difference between revolution and renaissance.
I began my second talk in Croatia by presenting the possibility that, instead of fighting for ‘revolution,’ the counter-culture might better and more effectively declare the “renaissance” begun. Revolutions always feel to me like circles. A renaissance, on the other hand, is a rebirth of old ideas in a new context. It is the very ‘reframing’ I’m talking about (in the 5/21 post, below).
I’m thinking about a less aspirational, less narrative model for political and social change than the counterculture’s more typically communist posture. Instead of looking forward to a day when justice will be won, we declare ourselves to be living in a just world right now – and that we are simply fighting for MORE justice.
My problem with ‘movements’ has always been the narrative style of their intended unfolding. They yearn forward towards salvation in the manner of utopians or fundamentalists. And then people do all sorts of nasty things in the name of that deferred future moment. People are actually taken OUT of their immediate experience as they put their heads down and do battle.
I don’t think this works. It certainly hasn’t, yet. I think we need a more fractal approach. We accept that we’ve won, and then start acting like it. On all fronts. We’ve won the war against the oil companies? Fine. Then we stop using oil, eh? We’ve won the war against genetic agriculture? Then we eat only truly organic foods. We have won the war against end-stage capitalism? Than we don’t go to McDonalds, even when we are home from college on xmas break and our old high school friends will think we’re nuts for not going in.
It is these tiny moments – these micro-moments – where the kinds of incremental change that topples regimes takes place. Micromoments where our friends get educated. We don’t use the mass media; we use mouth-to-mouth media. “They” own the media, so we might as well own reality.
I think we have to be living in the “NOW” in order to effect any real change. No postponement of joy. Once you start, there’s no stopping. You begin to see the unreality of money. You begin to see how “salvation” has been traded in for “retirement” as the new ultimate goal for which Americans suspend our lives and our ethics. (People work for companies they hate, and invest in corporations whose ethics they detest, in order to guarantee a good retirement.)
Meanwhile, what we can do seems much more scalable when we do it in the moment. I’m not saying poltical structures don’t need to be changed – they do. But we may have to let new structures emerge from the myriad of new relationships that begin to spawn once people are acting and communicating in the present.