In my last post, I quoted a person who’d been in Gezi Park in Istanbul during the recent protests. This is what she said:
“….The solidarity was incredible. Never in my life have I seen such caring and supportive gestures among complete strangers. This gives [me] hope that another world is possible”.
I’ve reprinted it in this post because when you look at the wave of protests in so many countries, you really can see that another world is taking shape and coming into being.
In Brazil and Turkey, just to take two examples, people came out onto the streets over a range of issues but in a way which shows that the old ways of doing governance have come under the spotlight and are being viewed as wanting in so many ways – corruption; nepotism; development before people’s interests; bloated projects like the World Cup and Olympics; lack of funding to alleviate poverty and improve transport, health, education; wages and working conditions.
In Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan has taken the old route to respond to protestors: talking of terrorism; outside interference; maligning social media, particularly Twitter; police brutality to suppress dissent; jailing of dissidents; pursuit of medical staff who volunteered to help wounded protestors.
Interestingly, Brazil’s female president has taken another route – one of concession, listening to protestors’ demands, minimising police suppression of demonstrations. How far this is smoke and mirrors remains to be seen, but compromise has shown a face which is quite rare in popular uprisings.
In both countries, interestingly, the demonstrations haven’t been about overthrowing governments, uprisings, revolutions and so on. It’s been about people pouring out in their tens of thousands to say they don’t like a variety of developments in society, and without leaders or central demands. They like the underpinnings of society but not the direction in which governments and businesses are moving.
Pundits, in response, have been tearing their hair out! Where are the leaders? What are the people’s demands? Why can’t they make their minds up? Why don’t they just vote in the next election and stay quiet until then?
But of course, people aren’t fitting into neat little solutions any more. Look at the billions squandered on stuff like the World Cup and Olympics. Yes, it’s good to celebrate sport in its various forms but it’s now descended into “My Olympics are better than your Olympics” along with ridiculous amounts of money squandered on new, super-flashy venues – while the poor, the disempowered, the homeless are carefully shuffled out of the way as areas they previously inhabited are gentrified, prettified and scoured of any sign that the beautiful society isn’t quite so beautiful.
People are becoming their own leaders which is a quite dazzling prospect for the future of a far more healthy society. It means we’re growing up, really becoming adults here on earth – not giving our power to old-style institutions, old-style misleaders and so on, not trusting the mass media which in the final analysis only serves the interests of the super-wealth individuals and corporations.
We are becoming our own mother and father – not looking for someone else to take responsibility for us, but taking on our own responsibility – challenging injustice instead of shrugging our shoulders; refusing to accept wasteful expenditure on grand projects while people go begging for decent housing, health and education services; not accepting the weasel words of politicians, head honchos, bureaucrats and so on.
Social media has seized the reins of power from the moribund institutions of the past and put power in the hands of the people. No, there many not be any one leader because everyone’s a leader. No, there may not be one central demand because people have a range of demands.
Yes, it’s riotous, chaotic, anarchic. But it’s a burst of activity, activism, self-empowerment which isn’t going to go away because more and more people have the bit between their teeth and are feeling the job of a wild ride towards real freedom, real creativity, a really new society where everyone counts and where new ways of working in a society are welcomed, embraced, used, played with and validated.
I know it sounds idealistic, but without a vision of a better future rather than the one offered to so many at present of poverty, homelessness, unemployment, falling living standards, we are confined to little lives. And our lives need to be big, joyous, expansive, visionary – for a far better, grander future than the piss-poor one being offered by the current crop of yesterday’s sad old mis-leaders.