How to change the world?

February 27th, 2012

Published on Pambazuka News, by Esther Vivas, February 22, 2012.

It is necessary to formulate alternative policy options which have their centre of gravity in social struggles, antagonistic to today’s ruling class* … //

… We have to be aware that these prefigurative models are not an end in themselves but a means to move forward without losing sight of the goal of more just and equitable society for everyone.  

Fighting for an economy based on solidarity in daily life and demanding a progressive tax policy, in which those who have more pay more, which will eliminate unit trusts, where tax evasion is prosecuted, which builds agro-ecological projects and works to ban GMOs, in favour of a public land bank, to have our savings in a credit union but to claim a public banking service from below. The way forward is shown by walking it and this cannot wait until tomorrow.

We should not forget that our model of social change requires the conscious mobilization of the majority of the population and a process of breaking the current institutional and economic framework. The emergence of the ‘revolution’ in the political landscape again, following the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, despite their weaknesses and limits, was the great and unexpected news that 2011 has brought us.

We also need to understand our role in the world and the impact of our practices on the ecosystem. We live on a finite planet, but the capitalist system ensures that we often forget this. Our consumption has a direct impact where we live and if everyone consumed as we do here a single planet would not suffice. But we are also encouraged in unbridled, compulsive consumerism, with the promise that more consumption means happiness, though in the end the promise is never fulfilled. We must begin to ask whether we can ‘live better with less’.

Anyway, we want to hold responsible those who impose such practices. We are told we live in a consumer society because people like consumption, which is why we have industrial agriculture and genetically modified foods — lies. Our model of consumption is based on the logic of a capitalist system that produces goods on a large scale and needs someone to buy them to keep the model running. They want to make everyone accomplices of policies that benefit only themselves. Fortunately, this great myth has begun to crumble. The ecological crisis we live in has turned on the warning lights. And we know that the climate crisis is rooted in a system that is productivist and short-sighted.

Today, a wave of anger is sweeping across Europe and the world — breaking the scepticism and resignation that for years have prevailed in our society, and restoring confidence in collective action which is useful and necessary for changing the existing order of things. We have seen the Arab Spring, the movement against the debt in Europe, the Icelandic people, the popular uprising, general strike after strike in Greece and now Occupy Wall Street in the ‘belly of the beast’ which says we are the 99 percent opposed to the 1 percent. The time is short and moving quickly. We know we can. (full text).

*(My comment: I refer to ruling class not only elites and institutions, but also habitudes making us believe an illusion of safety: husband-wife-relationship, hierarchical patterns of etiquette, education rules, all the way we live together. All include old feudal behavior to which we are so accustomed that we do not realize how they hurt us. To overcome the way we treat each other is a real challenge).


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