Big Democracy and Protest

March 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Image credit: The Guardian

Here is the fact: one segment of the population suffers daily humiliation from the sanctioned authorities. These humiliations too often lead to the most tragic of outcomes – murder by police. Another segment of the population, a much larger and dominant segment, does not have any direct experience of this sort of injustice. So they deny that it exists or that really matters that much. And here is where we find ourselves.

Protest has always been about disruption. Protest aims to make us so uncomfortable that we have to pay attention to things we have not been willing to see. It is very normal to react with anger towards the person that wakes you up. However, it is not wise to stay angry, it is best to stay awake.

It is also important to understand that there is no real guidebook for movement. The guidebooks that have been written are written for a different time. Movements have to experiment, they must test boundaries and yes, they must make mistakes.

Our work here at IISC is oriented towards Big Democracy. We seek, design, facilitate, support, encourage, activate practices that deepen our engagement with democracy. We deny the myth that democracy can be reduced to the sporadic episode of the vote. We refuse to limit democracy to the boundaries of the state and its control. We mean to continually expand people’s say over the decisions that affect their lives.

Protest is an effort at deepening democracy. Movement is a process. Our role is to engage.

I’m a fan of Eroc and The Foundation Movement, he is also a friend – and most importantly, he is a {r}evolutionary. I am still appreciative of his opinion piece in the Weekly Dig – An Open Letter to the Open Minded. Read it.

I’ve seen Eroc grow out of the dogmatic orthodoxies that are too often confused with radicalism and towards the complexities of critical thought that our movement moment demands. Eroc looks at the mainly unpopular protests that closed down I-93 in Eastern Massachusetts and places them in a much richer context.

Without a historical context though, how can one make sense of recent uprisings? How and when will we dismantle systemic injustices? Who is willing to admit they don’t have all the answers?

Eroc quotes Mallory Hanora, one of the I-93 protesters:

“Too often we confuse safety with our own comfort. I hope we can move away from comfort and towards justice.”

These are not times to be comfortable. These are times for waking up.

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