Don’t Get Yourself IsolatedJanuary 26, 2010 Leave a comment
I was intrigued by the title of Mark Danner’s recent opinion in the New York Times, “To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature.” And I could not help making a connection to the recent “Che” movie I just watched. The Cuban and Haitian revolutions took place during very different historical periods, but both victories were a refusal to accept destiny as prescribed by the ruling world order of their time.
And each time the dominant world order responded with the same strategy – a policy of isolation.
I don’t mean to deny the complexity of each of these moments, the myriad of factors at play nor the failures that were internal to each of the revolutionary regimes. But I do mean to observe that the people who rose up in revolution were oppressed people who refused to settle for a bad deal and who dared to believe they could be agents of their own history. Most importantly for this post, I do mean to stress the point that the common response to each insurrection was centered on a strategy of isolation.
Current experiments in freedom should take notice. I’m not referring to old fashioned efforts at taking over the state, but to truly pioneering efforts that are experimenting with practices and ideas that break out of dominant paradigms of power. Take notice. The dominant paradigm will try to isolate your project and then claim it can not work. And if you thought your (r)evolutionary efforts were already hard enough, it is worth thinking again, and pay very close attention to the need to make connections across a diversity of efforts. Build a network, make it resilient, and don’t get yourself isolated.
Some are already taking this reality into account:
- The work of the Berkana Exchange focuses on building connection among such improbable efforts.
- A tweet from @NurtureGirl recently got me hip to the idea that “In network theory, a node’s relationship to other networks is more important than its own uniqueness.”
- And the other day I went off on a tweet fest when @adriennemaree, of the Ruckus Society asked: How do you liberate a network to serve intersectional morphing movements? Note that by starting from the premise of network she is already thinking beyond the possibility of isolation! Here are a few of my responses:
- Look towards the same North Star
- Share a short set of clear principles
- Build radical trust
- Intensify demand for the authentic taste of freedom (don’t just think about it, don’t just want it, find a way to taste it)
- Build a material and immaterial gift economy
- Create and honor common rituals
- Actively experiment with new ways of being-with
- REALLY set it loose! (don’t try to run it)
- Connect, Connect and Connect
Now let’s get free.
Let’s get free, or perhaps let’s evolve. At times I feel the fight for “freedom” could more powerfully be framed as movement for reasserting the drive of life, which is to evolve, become more complex, more interdependent. The ultimate aim, in my mind, is liberation in and through community. Network is not just the means, it’s the end too.
Curtis, I’ve been thinking a lot about your comment. I am committed to an evolutionary frame, the shift away from a mechanical discourse of replacement to a more organic impulse of “transcend and include.” That being said, I can not turn away from framing my quest as a quest from freedom, and by this I refer to an actual rupture with the conditions of my own captivity. I think here of the butterfly that can no longer consider crawling as she did when she was a caterpillar, she has evolved herself into a a state of freedom.