andrew (delaselva) wrote in mentalrevnow,

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my abridged mrn!!

this is sort of a rambling reflection on my mental revolution, which is currently focused on reconciling my internal and external struggles, and creating not only outward change in terms of awareness and reforming/replacing harmful stuff but also in developing support structures to coalesce many internal struggles in a community. 'compassion' etymologically means 'a shared suffering'. well this is like a shared living. it means it's a process that hurts and feels great and we're gonna help each other through it.

and if you have any questions or anything is not clear here please ask me/comment about it. cool.

i have read several things lately that have reinforced my belief in my imagination. *my imagination is my all-purpose weapon in the struggle for mental revolution. it's actually almost invincible, but not in the michael jackson way*
one is The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin. altho i would very much like to read it outloud to you, i will say for now that it juxtaposes this world with an anarchist society *an-archy = without hierarchy*
the anarchist society begins to unravel because it is anarchist structurally, but it's denizens have not completely internalized correlating tenets of anarchism like mutual aid and solidarity. or rather, these wonderful values are not reinforced outside of a familiar institutionalized rhetoric that evokes the words of revolutionaries rather than the continued revolution itself. and so it unravels because there does not exist within this structured freedom any support systems for continuing the revolution within, for processing the struggle within and between people. this is a truly resonant account here in d.c., amongst communities whose sense of solidarity is geared around mutual disdain for oppressive bureaucracies. we don't see ourselves as having much in common with the agents of that oppression, so we shouldn't have to confront the same issues we call them on. such is the groupthink in this fictional society, where it is taken for granted that everyone will act in complete fairness to everyone else etc, and i see that often here as well.

at a recent meeting of the DC Men's Caucus, which is a group/forum/space for men to confront issues of sexism and patriarchy, the participants were asked to speak to their reason for being at the meeting. remarkably, several new members who had never participated in this group process volunteered a similar rationale. "i criticize other guys for things i see in myself. how do i overcome something i can't pinpoint, something that took years to imbed? i can't talk to my guy friends about this." see guys can't talk about being sexist, because sexists aren't guys, they are stripped of their masculinity. especially here within 'progressive' communities, accused abusive males are treated with hostility, the same goes with accused racists and transphobics and the like. the idea being that these are unreasonable, hostile people themselves.
in reality there is a very thin line between the people we label and protest and ourselves. we all have varying levels and types of prejudice and just general difficulties relating to and communicating with each other. and we all have to deal with the ill effects of a world that operates on capitalism and is promoted by worldviews like 'realism,' all of these isms based on the struggle for power, on pitting people against each other so that there can be a clear chain of dominance.

you can't win that kind of battle. i was reading an incredibly flawed article entitled "From Che to Marcos," about the genesis of latin american insurgent groups, and the author noted that the groups ostensibly "inspired by Che," those with vertical command structures and violent power-pull tactics that are often simply more efficient and elastic replicas of the oppressive governments they exist to topple, have gained more ground in terms of 'the struggle.' the power struggle, that is, such as in colombia with the FARC and ELN and brazil with the landless peasant movement *MST*. power changes hands, but nothing really changes.
the real struggle is in the way we relate to each other. in recognizing in order to eliminate but noT manipulating power dynamics.

also within this group that is an outgrowth of a communal desire to engage in a revolution within a revolution - that is, to focus on the internal struggle within the context of the external struggle - is just that: a return to the theme of the process being as important as the outcome. or rather, of simply focusing on the process. so much of what we do is goal-oriented, time-sensitive, but when it comes to what we want to change in the world and needing to start with making the same change in ourselves, you can't put a due date on that, you just have to be committed. we have to work together to be conscious of the implications and dynamics of this revolution of everyday life, as raoul vaneigem put it.

i saw howard zinn speak last week, and tho his talk varied in topicality he continued to unintentionally emphasize two points: raising awareness is important and there is hope. probably the most important talking point he gave me, which is somewhat obvious for many of us who sort of came into our own in the modern equivalent of anti-vietnam culture, is that the vietnam war had astounding approval ratings for several years, but suddenly experienced steep declines in popularity as people learned what was really going on. admittedly there were also many americans dying, but any kind of unjustifiable suffering and death is unacceptable to all people, it's just a matter of contextualizing atrocities and injustice in a relevant way, so that borders and races vanish in the face of a shared human suffering. in the usa it is easiest to do this, of course, by asking questions about money, freedoms of expression, political accountability; things americans take for granted but generally hold dear. and yes, to encourage the subversive bookstore crowd he threw out examples of people effecting change. Seventeen magazine gave a full page to katie sierra and her now-legendary t-shirt. a teacher-turned-cause celebre i met in tampa was fired after he refused to make his students write thank-you letters to general tommy franks, commander of the war on whatever it is we're at war with right now in the middle east/asia/wherever there are too many angry poor people.
and high school students, zinn says, are the most deprived of information, and the most willing to latch onto a subversive truth.
and i'll end on that one. it is becoming ever more apparent to me in whatever project i assist or undertake that much of it would be unnecessary were we to reorganize our values and put at the top of the list 'education/facilitation/adequate attention for young people.' the teacher is the ultimate activist. leading through service, obedient command, that's what me and marcos are talkin about.

and it starts very small. just ask someone looking at the tabloid TIME war coverage in the checkout line what they think of it. and move on to the kids you work with. and the chain reacts, the links connect.

listening to people in order to connect with them. sharing. good stuff. it's late.

and to put a modern spin on a Situationist quote-

"mrn! has sewn the wind. it will reap a tempest."

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I really liked this. (I want to get a small point out of the way though. I was under the impression the MST wasn't under a command structure and was fairly horizontal.)
Your discussion of the problem of oppression within activist communities and of focusing on process seem REALLY important to me.
keep up the good work
thank you very much
i can't find enough written in english or spanish about the mst but from what i have they can vary from region to region - brazil is rather huge, groups are always dislocated - tho there has def. more recently been a violent backlash against the ever-profiteering and quietly oppressive Cardozo govt, which leads to militarization of some localities, which cannot occur without subverting revolutionary directives to military aims
in a word, it sucks