6 Responses to “Nuit Debout: Call for a global day of action May 15th”

  1. Why is it always amazing? Ok, somethings going on. Then comes the advertising and it always sounds like that, amazing stuff, drumming in the streets and all. 99% against the 1%. “We know something is happening”. A convergence of struggles? What have they all of a sudden figured out to make this convergence happen? It rarely lasts if such a convergence happens at all. Who’s the “we”? Who wrote the pamphlets? Two weeks and they’re taking back stuff. Is it really participatory democracy? In two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people participating democratically?

    But then what else is there? What other ways are there? Probably none. Well hopefully all the struggles will converge and not beat each other up and split. Not enthusiastic.

    Sorry, but not inspired really. But then it’s hard to inspire me.

  2. Maybe amazing on one level but on another, here we go again. Lots of hopeful and exuberant rhetoric about reclaiming stuff, a convergence of struggles, participatory democracy,mother things and lots of drumming. Great. But what has this movement discovered that has evaded others before? Perhaps this is the only way shit gets changed, but this “convergence” is THE elusive cat. And for it to be sustained is even harder. I for one am not inspired or impressed by numbers and rhetoric anymore. Without really strong coherent clear ideas being discussed and debated with real purposeful focus on the future, these things are often far more full of a kind of festive celebratory carnival atmosphere rather than much else, with illusions of solidarity and participatory democracy and a whole lot odf finger twinkling.

    But, I guess there is no other way. However, to get the wider public on side and for them to see this as more than just some passing youthful festival, with a lot of drumming, will require some serious ideas and serious discussion.

    Convergence of struggles? Convergence of ideas? Jesus. When has this sort if shit ever been achieved with any real hardened solid foundations and force?

    Sometimes I think it’s actually easier to dance than to get serious. And after acwhile dancing just makes you tired. And the old dance slow.

    But dance away if you like. At least it’s fun and enjoyable. My daughter’s a dancer, but for her it’s hard physical work full of so much sexist bullshit.

    Ah, but what can ya do? It’s hard enough standing up all night let alone dancing.

    • Rather than me going over every single point and sarcastic put-down you’ve raised and all the tacit assumptions therein about social change, personal change and meaningful action which I do not share, I’ll just quote something from Rebecca Solnit (from an article ‘What Comes After Hope’, 2013). I’m wondering if you can at least mull over all of Solnit’s various points for a bit before, I’m guessing, lapsing back into your worn groove and comfort zone of despair, James? (Note: there was a period when I tended to sometimes wallow in my own despair too. Hope however, has nothing to do with optimism or naivete, it’s deeper, more visceral, vital, life…It’s also, unlike the boring predictability of despair and sarcasm, totally unpredictable…Solnit’s stuff helped me see that, even when I don’t share all her readings of history and the present). —

      “For a few years, I spoke about hope around this country and in Europe. I repeatedly ran into comfortably situated people who were hostile to the idea of hope: they thought that hope somehow betrayed the desperate and downtrodden, as if the desperate wanted the solidarity of misery from the privileged, rather than action. Hopelessness for people in extreme situations means resignation to one’s own deprivation or destruction. Hope can be a survival strategy. For comfortably situated people, hopelessness means cynicism and letting oneself off the hook. If everything is doomed, then nothing is required (and vice versa).

      Despair is often premature: it’s a form of impatience as well as certainty. My favorite comment about political change comes from Zhou En-Lai, the premier of the People’s Republic of China under Chairman Mao. Asked in the early 1970s about his opinion of the French Revolution, he reportedly answered, “Too soon to tell.” Some say that he was talking about the revolutions of 1968, not 1789, but even then it provides a generous and expansive perspective. To hold onto uncertainty and possibility and a sense that even four years later, no less nearly two centuries after the fact, the verdict still isn’t in is more than most people I know are prepared to offer. A lot of them will hardly give an event a month to complete its effects, and many movements and endeavors are ruled failures well before they’re over.

      Not long ago, I ran into a guy who’d been involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, that great upwelling in southern Manhattan in the fall of 2011 that catalyzed a global conversation and a series of actions and occupations nationwide and globally. He offered a tailspin of a description of how Occupy was over and had failed.

      But I wonder: How could he possibly know? It really is too soon to tell. First of all, maybe the kid who will lead the movement that will save the world was catalyzed by what she lived through or stumbled upon in Occupy Fresno or Occupy Memphis, and we won’t reap what she sows until 2023 or 2043. Maybe the seeds of something more were sown, as they were in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring of 1968 and Charter 77, for the great and unforeseen harvest that was the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the nonviolent overthrow of the Soviet totalitarian state in that country.

      Second, Occupy began to say what needed to be said about greed and capitalism, exposing a brutality that had long been hushed up, revealing both the victims of debt and the rigged economy that created it. This country changed because those things were said out loud. I can’t say exactly how, but I know it mattered. So much that matters is immeasurable, unquantifiable, and beyond price. Laws around banking, foreclosure, and student loans are changing — not enough, not everywhere, but some people will benefit, and they matter. Occupy didn’t cause those changes directly, but it did much to make the voice of the people audible and the sheer wrongness of our debt system visible — and gave momentum to the ongoing endeavors to overturn Citizens United and abolish corporate personhood.

      Third, I only know a little of what the thousands of local gatherings and networks we mean by “Occupy” are now doing, but I know that Occupy Sandy is still doing vital work in the destruction zone of that hurricane and was about the best grassroots disaster relief endeavor this nation has ever seen. I know that Strike Debt, a direct offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, has relieved millions of dollars in medical debt, not with the sense that we can fix all debt this way, but that we can demonstrate the malleability, the artifice, and the immorality of the student, medical, and housing debt that is destroying so many lives. I know that the Occupy Homes foreclosure defenders have been doing amazing things, often one home at a time, from Atlanta to Minneapolis. (Last Friday, Occupy Our Homes organized a “showdown at the Department of Justice” in Washington, D.C.; that Saturday, Strike Debt Bay Area held their second Debtors’ Assembly: undead from coast to coast.)

      Fourth, I know people personally whose lives were changed, and who are doing work they never imagined they would be involved in, and I’m friends with remarkable people who, but for Occupy, I would not know existed. People connected across class, racial, and cultural lines in the flowering of that movement. Like Freedom Summer, whose consequences were to be felt so far beyond Mississippi in 1964, this will have reach beyond the moment in which I write and you read.

      Finally, there was great joy at the time , the joy of liberation and of solidarity, and joy is worth something in itself. In a sense, it’s worth everything, even if it’s always fleeting, though not always as scarce as we imagine. […]

      There are so many pieces of the potential solution to this puzzle, and some of them are for you to put together. Whether they will multiply or ever add up to enough we don’t yet know. We need more: more people, more transformations, more ways to conquer and dismantle the oil companies, more of a vision of what is at stake, more of the great force that is civil society. Will we get it? I don’t know. Neither do you. Anything could happen.

      But here’s what I’m saying: you should wake up amazed every day of your life, because if I had told you in 1988 that, within three years, the Soviet satellite states would liberate themselves nonviolently and the Soviet Union would cease to exist, you would have thought I was crazy. If I had told you in 1990 that South America was on its way to liberating itself and becoming a continent of progressive and democratic experiments, you would have considered me delusional. If, in November 2010, I had told you that, within months, the autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who had dominated Egypt since 1981, would be overthrown by 18 days of popular uprisings, or that the dictators of Tunisia and Libya would be ousted, all in the same year, you would have institutionalized me. If I told you on September 16, 2011, that a bunch of kids sitting in a park in lower Manhattan would rock the country, you’d say I was beyond delusional. You would have, if you believed as the despairing do, that the future is invariably going to look like the present, only more so. It won’t.

      I still value hope, but I see it as only part of what’s required, a starting point. Think of it as the match but not the tinder or the blaze. To matter, to change the world, you also need devotion and will and you need to act. Hope is only where it begins, though I’ve also seen people toil on without regard to hope, to what they believe is possible. They live on principle and they gamble, and sometimes they even win, or sometimes the goal they were aiming for is reached long after their deaths. Still, it’s action that gets you there. When what was once hoped for is realized, it falls into the background, becomes the new normal; and we hope for or carp about something else.

      I still value hope, but I see it as only part of what’s required, a starting point.

      The future is bigger than our imaginations. It’s unimaginable, and then it comes anyway. To meet it we need to keep going, to walk past what we can imagine. We need to be unstoppable. And here’s what it takes: you don’t stop walking to congratulate yourself; you don’t stop walking to wallow in despair; you don’t stop because your own life got too comfortable or too rough; you don’t stop because you won; you don’t stop because you lost. There’s more to win, more to lose, others who need you.

      You don’t stop walking because there is no way forward. Of course there is no way. You walk the path into being, you make the way, and if you do it well, others can follow the route. You look backward to grasp the long history you’re moving forward from, the paths others have made, the road you came in on. You look forward to possibility. That’s what we mean by hope, and you look past it into the impossible and that doesn’t stop you either. But mostly you just walk, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. That’s what makes you unstoppable.”

  3. I can tell you emphatically, Peter, I was far more hopeful and positive before I joined IOPS and before I got a little insight into this world of activism and radical politics and before I met and began corresponding with people of such persuasion. There is no comfort zone of despair but a lot less hope and and lot more doubt. Maybe this thing will take off, great, fantastic, but I am put off by the type of essays describing such things and not a fan of drumming.

    There may be a little sarcasm and a few “put downs”, but my doubts and all my “tacit assumptions” aren’t just born of some despair and plucked out of the air. I do talk, read, and think. I may not be right or even close, and I do hope I am wrong, but I’ll wait a little before I get excited by these things. Drumming or no drumming.

  4. Some information about where events are being organised in Australia, places and times would be useful.

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