A Movement Against Neoliberalism
The second hope (in creating an opposition to the neo-liberal party) is a popular global uprising. It has to be global to match the scale of the force and the structures it must challenge. Beyond that, it’s difficult to know what it might look like because practically the only thing that is likely is something very unlikely, something that doesn’t look like anything that has come before.
Popular uprising is the storming of the Bastille. It’s Gezi Park, Tahrir Square, the street protests in Rio and Occupy Wall Street rolled into one. Popular uprisings are power-shaking, heart-pounding, reality-shifting things. They operate on the outer edge of what is and they carve into the frontier of what could be.
They reframe ideas that were thought immutable until the change happens. They are unknowable in advance to power structures; they must be in order to daze them and slip past the apparatus that protects the status quo.
Popular uprisings are the extraordinary swarming of people behind a common, if often ill-defined purpose. They are the expression of discontent so deep it is often uncatchable in language but so common that people can see it in each other’s eyes. They can appear to come from nowhere, although they almost never do. But the appearance is cast by the fact that they are unusual, difficult to grasp, and they catch people unaware. And they can dissipate just as quickly but are no less glorious for that.￼
So the thing to do now is organize. Build hope. Stretch imaginations. Find and join others who see the world as it is, not as we are told it is. Be elegant with what we do know and humble about what we don’t. Be unafraid to live in that space between knowledge and ignorance, because that is the most dynamic place of innovation and discovery. Ignore the cynics who will demand, out of a paucity of their own imagination, that we produce a blueprint for the future.
Change on this scale never happens according to a plan, only according to values, and to see jealousy in arguments like this is the modern day equivalent of “let them eat cake”. And anyway, cynics are always cynical and they never do anything of their own, so let them carp from the sidelines if it makes them feel more important.
We must be unafraid to fail, ever mindful of the moment and faithful to the idea that from bright and popular beginnings, a sustainable global opposition to the Neoliberal Party can emerge. We must love ourselves and our opponents enough to be compassionate, understanding and non- violent.
The Occupy Wall Streets, the Indignados, the Project for the Advancement of our Common Humanity, the Zapatistas and the Ekta Parishads are the soil from which the imagination and then the form of what is possible will grow.
They will be fuelled a small army of studious minds, often to be found in the background, behind all the rowdy park-grabbing masses, but now routinely turning out highly credible thinking in books like Samir Amin’s The Liberal Virus, Christopher Boehm’s Moral Origins: The evolution of virtue, altruism and shame, Naomi Klein’s No Logo, Stanley Cohen’s States of Denial, Eric Beinhoffer’s The Origin of Wealth, the collection of inspiring essays edited by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich in The Wealth of the Commons: A World beyond Market and State, David Graeber’s Debt; the first 5000 years, Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics and even Thomas Pikkety’s weighty and mainstream Capital in the 21st Century.
There are organisations like The New Economics Foundation, Positive Money, Strike Debt and The Institute for New Economic Thinking building the research base and pushing public understanding of where they boundaries of economic hegemony exist, and who puts them there. They are all feeding this growing number of experiments in how to bring about a revival of popular democracy, infused with the youthful, hopeful spirit of Occupy.
Groups like the Five Star Party in Italy, The Coalition the Immokalee Workers in Florida, the students of the Chilean Winter and Kenyans for Tax Justice in Nairobi that currently exist on the edge, thinking big and risking failure to find a way through The Neoliberal Party’s defenses. I would go as far as saying that something like a cohesive movement is taking shape. And there are surely millions, billions more people in houses and huts all around the world who would respond if the right note were sounded.
This article is an extract from The One Party Planet.