I’m reading a book, by James Herod, called Getting Free: Creating an Association of Democratic Autonomous Neighborhoods. You can read it, and others online, download a .pdf copy or send the author some money and get a real copy.
Getting Free is an excellent expostulation of the principles of local anarchist organization via neighborhood assemblies and associations of assemblies, as I have explained here and elsewhere and which I proposed in a run for Borough Assembly in Fairbanks, Alaska, and promoted in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Herod has very clearly outlined the principles of such anti-capitalist organization, and steps to get from here to there. I have yet to read the other works on his web site, but they look to offer equal promise. I’m a little bit concerned, as the copyright date on the web site is 2007 and he hasn’t answered my email query. Time will tell.
Be that as it may… I’m a bit older now than when I ran for Borough Assembly and perhaps a bit.. well, older will have to do. I’m not sure if I’m wiser or just more cynical.
I’ve come to the realization, through life experience, gentle prodding by wiser comrades and lucky slaps up side the head, that most people in this world just don’t want to take more control over their own lives. To use a Rule of Thumb devised by my wife Jean and I, about 10% of the people in our world are concerned with the world around them and care to do much of anything about it. The 10% rule seems to apply whether it’s attendance at our Homeowner’s Association, our Live Oak Neighbors gatherings or support for preservation of our local greenbelt.
This is not to say that it cannot be otherwise. There is no “Human Nature” carved in stone, hanging over each and every one of our heads, forcing us to be this way. Individuals in this society are this way because this is how they are taught to be. (Notice how I say “they.” For some reason, Jean and I escaped this conditioning. I suspect there are a few others… 10% I might guess.)
It is a chicken and egg thing, though. Our society is formed by the way we are, which teaches children how to be human beings in our society. It seems like an inescapable spiral.
However, our society didn’t get this way overnight, and it cannot change to another form overnight. It takes time, perseverance, vision and dedication. This is where we come in.
Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ram Dass told us, “Be here now.” Castaneda described the life of the impeccable warrior. It’s all the same thing. We each change the world we live in now, so that our life is moving toward a desired state. We remove ourselves from capitalist employment. We engage in and support neighborhood cooperatives, neighborhood assemblies, democratic decision-making. We withdraw our energy and cooperation from oppressive, capitalist institutions.
We work to build a better world here and now, not at some distant place and time. Our actions do not depend on the actions of others.
We have a finite number of decisions to make in the remainder of our lives. We live to make each decision count.
In times of great change, those who stay the same are left behind.