Conversation about being active for Bastion Project

I’ve adapted the idea of being active from a discussion I had with the Bastion Project out of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The broad scope of digital media has drawn our attention solely to theories and ideas and alienated us from action. We have forgotten that theories and ideas find their richness and fulfillment in the action of affective physical reality. But there is no prerequisite to participate in positive social change. We don’t need any special education in peace and justice or to be initiated into the cadre of the “socially conscious” as liberals will put it. All we really have to do is liberate and connect our physical efforts and show love for our brothers and sisters by utilizing our inherent power of culture to expand our choices and opportunities for action.

To begin we must take back reality. Physical reality has been effectively alienated and mediated in our every day lives, but we have the power to reconnect. Connect with the environment, our home and giver of life—the only force more powerful than the US military. Enhance mutuality through sharing and trust for long term community and individual health. Dismantle violent and exploitative power structures from our interpersonal relationships to the highest echelons of financial power and see how the world looks after.

We must also take back our bodies. Everyday corporations and the state seek to control our time and energy to serve their ends, often through violent coercion. This is how value is produced on a capitalist planet (generally speaking), the work and non-work of the people, meaning we have the real power. We must take our time and energy back and use it to end hegemonic domination rather than support it. In order to actually realize change, we must be active, with our bodies, intellects, and creativity.

Then we take back our emotional healthy. When love is the motivating force for action, positive social change becames possible.Compassion is a natural force within horizontal human relations, that is, in the absense of coercive and exploitative power. Our love is locked away by the isolating mechanisms of the current system of control where every individual is pit against every other individual. Revolutionary types from Marx to Che to Huey P all advocated for the power of love, but in order for love to triumph over fear, thought and action must restore human optimism and health.

To decolonialize is the most difficult struggle, but we have a potent weapon. Social change occurs in three different but overlapping fields: individual, institutional, and cultural. Since the individual is an illusion and institutions have only given us negative rights, culture stands out as both accessible and responsible to the people. Artists have unique resources and social positioning that allow them to express dangerous truths, criticize power structures in a way useful to those held hostage by hegemony, and, most important, to show the people than another reality is possible.

Lastly, we must remember that with every choice we make, we choose a side. One side leads to greater liberation (value), the other to utter destitution (absence of value). We must take the effort to choose the right side, that is, the side of the people against these violent power structures that make realizing our power difficult. If we choose the wrong side, we will find we have less and less choices to make but if we choose boldly (that is, dangerously), we will see our choices and possibilities expand.

A better world is possible, but you gotta be active :-).

– Michaël Veremans

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