Broadcast 11/6/2014 at 11:24 AM EST (93 Listens, 33 Downloads, 1725 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast
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Marina Sitrin, a leading thinker for Occupy, author of multiple books on Horizontalism, and now, co-author of the new book, They Can't Represent Us! reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy.
Very Rough interview Notes
Welcome back to the show.
Let's start with the idea of "everyday revolutions" What does that mean for this book.
You present the belief that representative democracies are not democratic, especially liberal democracy.
People are saying nomos no representan
They don't represent us.
Just about every country in the world where there is liberal democracy-- democracy was not meant to be democratic. A small groups of elites set up a system which they called democratic, but it is not what it was meant to be democratic.
Princeton U did a study trying to show that the US was a democracy and concluded that the US is more of an oligarchy rather than a Democracy.
Rob: So the message is you can talk about democracy but that for the most part democracy is not democratic-- Somehow we've been caught up the idea of how horrible it would be if we didn't have democracy-- but what actually are we talking.
You introduce concepts and terms. Let's talk about them.
We saw so many forms of organization around the world, including occupy, brazil, portugal, bosnia--
A break in organizing in different ways-- like the Zapatistas in 1994. They said 'ya basta" which means, "enough,"
It's an expression of such frustration-- let's break-- this moment of stop.
The rupture is business as usual just needs to stop.
Rob: Can you talk a bit about the Zapatistas and subcommand ante Marco
Chiapas mexico-- indigenous people have been exploited, tremendous abuses
In 1994 when NAFTA was to be enacted, which the Zapatistas said were a death sentence for them, said "enough!" They declared what was more of a declaration of independence-- and took back land that had historically been theirs but which had been taken from them by oligarchs.
They self govern, have independent education and health care system that is better than others in the region near them in Mexico. What is inspiring is that they said enough and trying to fight them on their own terms, rather than through elections or through creating a guerrilla army--
Rob: How do they exist within Mexico, resisting the government, the authorities, the police, the military?
The hundreds of thousands, the millions of people throughout Mexico supported them.
Hillary Klein put together a book on Zapatista women-- book Companeras by seven stories press.
Rob: one or two other good books on Zapatistas?
Our words are our weapons-- by Marcos also by seven stories press
song in turkey after XXXX park, in xxxxxx
Rob: horizontalism horizontalizad-- can you briefly describe what it is and why it is important
It's not an ism, it's kind of an anti-ism-- a social relationship-- think about these assemblies and what they look like around the world, trying to create relationship where no-one has power over each other"
Some people in the Occupy move
Rob: talking about bottom-up and need for caring, compassion, empathy
Politica Affectiva-- affective politics based on trust-- where people feel cared for, as a whole person-- and
Rob: I liked, in your discussion of politics affective, your discussion of the challenge of dealing with machismo culture.
Example: Shuffling the deck in "stack" in occupy assemblies-- so, after five men spoke, a woman would speak.
In Greece, machismo played out in militancy on the front line-- tended to be much more male.
Rob: Another concept that I love is "popular power." Can you talk about that?
power with each other, a collective power, thinking differently about power.
Rob: communal council-- you say in your book that there are tens of thousands in Venezuela, and the communal council law. What's that about.
movement organizing from below-- a government that is actually supporting these popular projects-- people who come together in assemblies that they need or want. They get money from the government.
Rob: and you talk about how getting the communal councils to work WITH the government, there is risk of co-optation-- that there is always the need to make this work.
Rob: Next concept: Encuentro
coming together-- but it's not a meeting, not a hierarchical board meeting with Roberts Rules of order. There are different kinds of comings together-- one is about knowledge-- sharing of what people have learned from grandmother, book, child
Rob: recuperating workplaces, Zapatista Subcommandante Marco: recuperating history
When I think of Occupy, what I think a lot of people mean by it is to recuperate-- to take back what is ours and " like workers taking back and recuperating workplaces-- 350 of these in Argentinas-- factories, hotel, medical facilities-- now taking place in Europe--
in Thessaloniki, in northern part of Greece-- someone said it would never work-- sure enough, less than a year later a workplace called biomed is taken over"
There are in Italy, Tunisia"
It's been really successful on all different levels
Rob: it's even been done in the US-- the window factory in Chicago-- and let's talk a bit about recuperating history--
a history that brings in "we" histories we have of such inspiring "struggle, self organization.. that are not in the history books. We need find them
Rob: Like Howard Zinn has made a good start
Rob: I think of it as bottom-up his tory
Rob: Another word you describe: protagonist;
We're the one making our own
You describe in your book a revision Venezuela 1999 constitution-- Participatory and protagonistic democracy vs. liberal and representative form. What's the difference?
Rob: political vs protagonist, collective protagonism leads to new ways of speaking-- nosotros, nuestro, yo or, we/us/our, I collective ownership
Rob: my bottom-up meditation-- from I to you to we to all-- and that's the sequence of the tenses in Spanish
Borrowing the Zapatistas-- a world in which many ways fit.
Rob: Let's move on to Autogestion-- applied to work places, policing, justice, medical care, education
self organizing, self organization and self administration
There's a very strong history of self organization in communities and neighborhoods-- around the world.
Rob: another concept: Autonomy, Autonomous schools, health, agricultural production planning, media--
Public banking? Charter schools?
Rob: what is autonomy and autonomous--
this is about people in the movement wanting to be autonomous-- not part of the system or institutions-- traditional parties or unions-- that got us into the problem. We are going to self organize in this horizontal"
Rob: what happens when the state sees autonomous self organization as a threat to state power
then they come in and repress and co-opt--
In some regions of Spain have become so strong-- the Plataforma--
that some of these municipal governments have said they're putting a freeze on foreclosures on evictions, because they're afraid there's so much power being built from below-- that people will stop looking to the state-- so they stop to usurp or co-opt the state, or sometimes it's physical repression.
Rob: Next concept: Todos Somos= We all are, We are all Bradley Manning, We are all Trayvon Martin
seeing ourselves in the other, not just that, but also being the other-- not just the political o outcome of what might happen to this person-- as a woman in a heterosexual relationship, even so, we are all gay and lesbian-- it's about how all other people are treated.
Rob: How is that manifesting in Greece?
Group Golden Dawn-- were beating migrants and sometimes killing them setting fire to places where they were living. Assemblies started to see the struggle as interconnected-- seeing that what they were creating was intertwined.
Rob: Next Concept: free territory , piquete-- blockade
people make road blockades, literally blocking major arteries so traffic can't flow so it stops commerce-- it is something that is being done right now all over the world where international mining "tar sands" where people block trucks to prevent blowing up of mountains-- and while they are there they are talking, creating new relationships"
Walking and questioning or making the road as one walks-- a multiplicity of paths towards ever changing ends, the end as a process-- rationale behind Occupy's no demands that drove top-down thinking authoritarianism needing people crazy
a work in process based on values-- solidarity, mutuality, community, equality, self-administration, freedom" and I would add, other bottom-up values-- localization, interdependence, caring, empathy and compassion. Talk about how this fits in.
As we go.. there's no blueprint, there's no answer, we don't know we have to create it together. We're going to change as we know each other as situations change.
You can't have a list of demands until you at least know each other.
caminando preguntamos-- walking we ask questions
Rob: yet you make it clear that there are very concrete paths.
thousands of people governing themselves with this concept-- t his spirit of not having the answer and figuring it out.
Rob: And again, this is very hard for people who are authoritarian-- meaning people who need to be told what to do".
Rob: No to Representative Democracy
quote: almost every country in the world"
and quote by Fani, from Thesaloniki, Greece, It is said that we have democracy right now in Greece. That is not democracy. We have no real power. We don't make decisions. So , democracy is a concept that has been destroyed to such a degreee that if we're about to use it again, we should completely reinvent it. ?
I like the idea of recuperating democracy
we don't rule. We don't make decisions about the most important things in our lives.
That's what these new movements are about.
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