Stephen Collis writes today in Rabble about an article in Nature about climate change, which makes him think of all the environmental changes in Bill C-38, and then also about a book I shall have to read, "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" by David Graeber. Collis says this near the end of his article:
What we need is movement building: a movement grounded in the commons (in care for the commons, which is simultaneously a care for the future we will share); a movement against the damage legislation like Bill C-38 participates in (damage to the natural environment and the commons, damage to First Nations' territories and traditional ways of life, damage to citizens' rights and freedoms, damage to workers' opportunities and well-being); and a movement that-when the next election does come around -- will allow us to genuinely use the electoral system to reverse some of the damage currently being done, and in turn reform that electoral system so the sorts of abuses we are now suffering are not possible in the future.
For now, we need the streets, and we need pots and pans. But even this must be little more than a prelude and means to deeper organization. We cannot simply hope to increase the numbers of willing casseroles participants week by week, until we somehow overwhelm the government. We, too, will run up against the metric of our "base," or at least fall into the calculus Graeber warns against: "Any system that reduces the world to numbers can only be held in place by weapons." That's the state's game. It can't be ours.
I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was with Occupy. I thought one of its strengths was its taking care of others. As hopeful as I was about it though, I was not sure it had the momentum to start the revolution. The reason I say this is that I think a majority of people are still comfortable enough not to want to lift their heads up and risk being a target. I don't mean to say that they are happy with things. I don't think folks are happy. Indeed, I think they are not, but that they may be scared. This movement that Collis talks about will only come when people no longer feel they have anything to lose. And those of us advocating a movement have to think about how those we ask to rise up are going to feed and shelter their children, their elderly and themselves.
Which brings me to the weird benefit that Enbridge and its stupid pipeline and this government with its nasty omnibus bills are actually conferring on us. They are reminding us what community is about. They are threatening us, but in our conversations about this we are aware that others are threatened, and frightened. Here in Atmon (Almost The Middle Of Nowhere), which is quite close to the towns and regions that will be directly impacted by the pipeline, we have quite a cohesive little community centred around its opposition. And this is true of other hubs of opposition too. And because it has been going on for some time now, these communities have really grown to know and care about one another.
This is coming up again and again for me. Last weekend Lorne linked to an article by Murray Dobbin in Counterpunch on this same theme.
My child goes to university in Halifax. I went to visit her in her first semester there and we went to the Farmer's Market together. In the middle of a fairly large area was a community trading post. It was a six foot 4 x 4 with a base of some kind to keep it from falling over, festooned with index cards of skills people wanted to trade for needs they wanted met: This is what I can do; this is what I would like. I will cook you a meal in exchange for french conversation practice, I will trade my plumbing skills for lessons on the piano, I will trade carpentry skills for patching my jeans. It was the loveliest thing. I am still nearly verklempt thinking about it.
I think I'll go and sing...