who will fund the revolution then?

October 21, 2007 at 5:34 pm (anti-classism, anti-oppression, Uncategorized)

this was a crazy weekend.  we had friends from out of town who came for the prenc welcoming committee.  and once again we talked alot about organizations, privilege, rights, oppression, etc.

and i started to wonder again if the reformist: changing the institution from the inside is ever effective.

i cannot think of a time when people from the inside of an unjust institution have changed the power relations in the institution significantly.  i mean more than a reshuffling of chairs but a paradigmatic transformation of power from the haves to the havenots.  i mean a successful revolution.

my partner says that the only successful transformations have occurred when people inside the institution were working with people outside the institution to transform the institution.  maybe.

i keep thinking of our friends in tuwani who said that it didnt matter who became president in palestine, because it wasn’t the person that was the problem but the chair.  (imagine a chair) whoever sits in the chair becomes corrupt and we have to get rid of the chair.  that community gave me so many glimpses of what revolutionary anarchist society would look like.  it turns out that it looks a lot like sheep. (they were shepherds)

so one of the women who visited us was studying to be a nurse midwife.  another friend wanted to be teacher.  both of them are counting the years of school before they reach their goals.  both of them consider themselves to be revolutionary.  and very committed to destroying the exploitative system currently in place.

so their plan seems to be to gain more institutional power (degree, title, expertise, education, money, etc) in order to deconstruct that power.  well, i cant help but wonder why do they need that level of security.  and if i can trust ´leaders´who need institutional power to feel as if they can lead.  maybe the people should decide their leaders and not just the institutions. 

right now i am reading the revolution will not be funded.  and while i am not sure if i am ready to give up on the ngo model completely ai m more and more questions the activist-for-a-living model that i once aspired to.   i met paola rojas at the incite conference (she wrote the article  are the cops in our heads or in our hearts that i posted earlier) and she said that she was walking away from the activistforaliving model after being really successful at it and wanted to work as a doula. 

but then who will fund the revolution?  and why is ist when we talk about ´resources´it is always a euphemism for cold hard cash?  what are our resources?  what do our communities have in abundane that can sustain us just as well or better than money?  what about open spaces, does someone have a home that we could use as an office while they are at work (this was a great idea over a drink at a poetry reading that just opened up my directions i hadnt thought of before) who would be willing to cook a meal or give a massage or teach salsa or found a bunch of printer paper that just ´fell´off a truck?  maybe rather than putting our energy primarily in getting the insitutional power, could we see ´people power´and `power to the people` as more than just membership numbers and dues…and stop using the– non profit as a vanguard for the people– model. 

 and eliminate the radical vs reformist dichotomy…inside the system vs outside the system.  stop seeing the ´system´as central and start seeing the everyday peopel who are fighting against violence as central.  stop seeing the institutional prestige as our ticket to being radical and see the all the places that people already daily are organizing outside of the nonprofit model as the places that we need to learn form and support. 



  1. jdick said,

    You have a beautiful soul.
    I wish more people thought like you.

    Reading Seize The Time, by Bobby Seale, has allowed me think that maybe it is possible as people, who are fighting against violence, to work with people within the system, as well as work with community members outside of it. For example, the Black Panther Party, active during the Civil Rights Movement, was trying to implement socialist programs into existence, by running Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale as candidates for local government seats. However, the government knew that the BPP had a huge community of working class, women, and people of color backing them and that if those two members won their seats, the socialist 30 hour work week and programs, such as the free clothing program would be institutionalized into our society. That is why the Black Panthers were quickly eliminated during the late 60s and there has been no successful revolution to follow.
    Are you ready to eat rats?
    What is your email?

  2. dark lily said,

    dear jdick
    i am still struggling with the question of what is the relationship between revolution and reformism. i am not sure if i am ready to eat rats. actually, i am quite sure that i am not ready to eat rats.
    the bpp at their best was very strategic and (in my humble opinion) used the system in a tactical manner to advance their/our cause.
    but at the same time, as i have seen with many including myself, that when we are working day to day in the system it is difficult to remain connected to the communites for which we are working.
    i need to reread bobby seale.

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