2nd March 2012
Post with 8 notes
After coming back from the Walmart Shutdown I was reminded of Argentina.
In Argentina, where the people took command of many highways for weeks, every driver who wanted to, could make her/his case in front of the impromptu “intersection GA,” explaining why he should be given permission to pass. Then, the GA would discuss it until it would arrive to consensus. If a consensus was not reached, the driver would not pass. I happen to be in a public bus crossing that people’s picket line. We waited for about an hour and we were given permission to cross. Some trucks had been there for days. Some drivers where given permission to pass after 6 hours of deliberation, some after 6 days, and some were turned back.
When we shout, “Who’s streets? - Our streets!” we mean we, the people, have the power to stop or to let pass vehicles as we see fit. This world is our world, these roads are our roads, the decision is our decision. We the people are policing (making a policy) the intersection as a collective. Our personal opinion is relevant only as a brick in the collective consciousnesses.
So exerting our people-power does not mean a dogma in which nobody passes. It means that we (the collective of the people who took-over the intersection) decide via our direct democracy body (the GA) who passes and who does not. And if we as a collective can’t come to a decision, the driver waits. The people in the cars wait for the people’s decision. Our roads, our streets, our world. This is what democracy looks like.
Yesterday at Walmart in Mira Loma was a far cry from that direct democracy I saw in Argentina. When a truck approached our picket line, we blocked it, but when the driver came down to plead with us to let him pass – all hell broke loose. Most people completely ignored the driver, some came to talk to him, and yet others yelled out-loud that “no matter what he says, we should not let him through.” As the driver explained that he might be fired if he does not let go, and show us that his truck was empty I heard people yelling, “well if he will be fired he can join Occupy.” A group of us was trying to organize a “mini GA” around the truck; however, while we were discussing the situation, the driver used the chaos to pull into an adjacent parking lot and sped away.
We must recognize that our people are a product of our individualistic competitive culture of capitalism. Many of us had never experienced “community” till the occupation. We are not racist or sexist, although we all may have these tendencies - after all we all breathe the air of a country that was founded on the annihilation of indigenous people and the enslavement of Africans. Yet, we are the only people we have; we are the people who stood in the trenches yesterday at Walmart. We are the people who stand and speak at the GAs. Like it or not, our comrades are a product of capitalism (just like we are) but something in their hearts cries freedom; something in their hearts wants to release the racism, the sexism and the privilegism; to throw away the burden of colonizer-consciousness and to be free in a new and just society. That is why we all have join the Occupy movement and that is why we all came down to shut down Walmart. And like it or not, they/we are our comrades, they/we are the ones we must educate and radicalize for a new world to come forth.
Incidents like the ones at McArthur Park (“parachuting” into a community) and Walmart come about not only to show us that the colonizer-consciousness is still within us, but also to help us purge it, clean it, release it. Only via such incidents can we grow as a movement. We must accept that we are an “experiment in progress” (that is how the Zapitistas call their autonomy), and as such we will stumble time and again. But as long as we are able to admit our stumbles, to remember that we all are a product of capitalism trying to create something which is totally unlike capitalism, as long as we do not call our comrades names but instead educate and support each other in our stumbles and growth - another world is not only possible, it is inevitable.