Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How to Resist




*Educate

*Organize

*Emancipate

Resist corporate corruption and support local industries by creating local communities committed to social and economic justice. Communities across the U.S. are passing binding Sweatfree resolutions. In my own community (Missoula, MT), an amazing organization, CAJA (Community Action for Justice in the Americas: www.caja.org), is finding wide support for a Sweatfree Community Campaign. If you like, you can read about Sweatfree communities at: www.sweatfree.org

Another simple thing one can do is to support local farmers' markets. You know: Buy Fresh/Buy Local. These kinds of actions are neither frivolous nor superficial. Through buying our food from local farmers (Missoula's farmers' market has grown into a hugely popular cultural event!) one is also conserving massive amounts wasted energy in the transportation/storage costs implied in our food system. Simply planting one's own garden in any green space in our community can become a revolutionary act. Take back our public space with community gardens—even in urban settings—and we are resisting the corporatization of our world. Local farmers (who are largely Hmong, Hudderite, Hispanic, and Russian minorities) are benefiting from this local action.

Set up local "free-schools." Very little money is needed, just a belief in unfettered community education. Anarchist Spain once ran free-schools with the idea of encouraging self-reliance, critical consciousness, as well as community and personal development. Young idealistic students set up the Missoula Free School with these very same beliefs.

Foster direct democracy by promoting community organizing. Encourage neighborhood groups to demand a role in local decision making. Take back local governments that were hijacked by conservative elites in our communities. For example, look at local school boards that are being manhandled by conservative bankers, lawyers, and business owners. Replace them with citizens from the growing poor class. When all else fails, encourage local level communities to take direct action to affect change.

Finally, one of the best ways to tie education, organization and emancipation together is through radical union participation. We must get people to organize themselves through their daily work. Unions like the Industrial Workers of the World still exist. Organizing all workers into One Big Union is still a practice: making an injury to one an injury to all. Only when the working class controls the means of production will they begin to be "free."

A lucid example of the genuinely positive effects of a general strike, took place in a most recent event in Chile. The high school students in that country were able to rally together the largest mass mobilization since Pinochet to their cause. Joining them in the general strike were their teachers, administrators, educational experts, labor unions, churches and other social stakeholders. As a result, they won a voice in the decision-making process for the reform of that country's educational policy in a relatively short time period (three months).

Calling the system "evil" is not enough! Educating our fellow community members of the benefits to supporting local business is tantamount to resisting corporate capitalism. The most recent E. Coli scare is a great point of departure for this kind of education. Why not encourage local communities to take direct control of their lives, especially control of our most basic needs: i.e. food, housing, and labor. Can't we imagine an organized group of local farmers benefiting from the protection of an educated local community that demanded their local products in lieu of the heavily subsidized Agribusiness products that are genetically modifying, chemically processed and unsafe?

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, suggested posing problems for communities to solve and making education an informal process. This means that we engage in dialogical learning rather than the transmission of “facts.” Instead of having “teachers/leaders” educate the masses from on high, the oppressed can only become aware of their oppressor through action that is informed and linked to certain values. Creating the “time and space” for a community to dialogue about its problems is the key. As mentioned above, these spaces—where praxis is linked to education—are local: farmers’ markets, neighborhood circles, free schools, unions, etc.

2 comments:

gregrandgar said...

Alternative schools and farmers markets are definitely going in the right direction but, until there are no designated teachers and everyone is as aware of the health of their environments as a natural part of their daily lives as providing ones own food requires and as personal as eating it, such activities are short of returning to symbiosis with the natural evolution of the planet. I almost feel you have read it, but will recommend Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn anyway. No book ever tied and drew so many loose ends together so neatly, like the continents drifting back to reform Gaia.
I'd liken to include you in my links.

Ché Bob said...

Thanks for the recommendation, because I have not read Ishmael. Actually, others have recommended it as well. I will read it.

As for the books I suggested, Grace Llewellyn in particular does not call for "designated teachers," except to say that a student must become their own teacher in symbiosis with their natural world.

Paulo Freire's whole concept of informal education was designed to strike at the ideas of Tabula Rasa that you too disagreed with. He argued for a dialogical, rather than curricula form, of learning. This rewrote the relationship between learner and educator to attempt to erase the distinctions in strictest interpretations of Freire's "informal education."

A.S. Neill also believed in the free choice of what a young person will learn. For that matter, he always said if a student chose not to learn then that choice must be honored. Once a young person decided what it was that they wanted to do or to learn, they approached mentors from the areas they wanted to learn. The choice was as voluntary as it gets.