Community: Relocating Desire for a Better World
One of my favorite activists and writers in the 20th century was Dorothy Day who once said, “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” A revolution of the heart is not for Day a simple form of escapism outside of public life. Day’s entire life was devoted to forming a material community in which the focus was 0n solidarity of the poor and the socially and economically marginalized. It seems to me today that with the rise of severe economic disparity and lack of a democratic process in which demands for justice can be heard and acted upon, that we have nearly all of us been marginalized. Our power to determined and enact justice has been neutralized by the sheer power of the very few. But what can and should be done about this logic of growing global precarity? It seems to me only a few options remain:
- We quietly accept our precarity and continue living our lives in isolation and alienation. We ask no questions and simply obey.
- We organize ourselves by forming communities that focus not on profit making and materialism but on the celebration of our labors and life together.
Option #2 is admittedly very difficult. We have learned to fear and distrust anything outside the status quo. A challenge to the reigning ideologies (neoliberalism, neoconservatism, militarization, imperialism etc.) strikes fear in the hearts of many because it charts a logic of the unknown. We have been trained to distrust the “unknown” and prefer to rest in the known and established order of things. But this distrust is itself a product and expression of our enslavement to the establishment financially, physically and psychologically.
So the question becomes, how do we break free from the reigning order in a way that produces and restores health, trust, the sharing of resources without the reverting back into the status quo?
The Bernie Sander’s movement has shown us many things, I will just name two: 1. that there is a desire, especially among the younger so-called “lost generation” to break free from the establishment and the reigning regimes of power. But also (#2) the means of breaking free cannot simply happen strictly within the framework of the establishment itself. Thus, what is necessary for our time is a way to reorganize ourselves without pure references to the establishment. But how is this possible?
Many years ago the birth of The Global Center for Advanced Studies was designed to take that first step. As with anything the first step is always the most difficult one. The idea was to begin with a school that believed in a new and different world–a world that valued joy, beauty, learning and collaboration in a way that would secure the means of the development of a different economy–an economy of knowledge, organization, self-sustaining clean resources. We are on our way, our first step has been accomplished, but the end-game remains open to the desires of the very people that comprise our school.
Together we are trying to create something outside the status quo, but this takes time and years of development.
We have only just begun and we are on our way.