Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Occupying the Commons Through Grassroots Democracy

April 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 64

There is a movement afoot - the WE of humanity has been awoken by the breakdown of its beloved planet. The movement has risen under many names: anti-corporate, anti-capitalist, anti-free-trade, anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberalist. Many say that it started in Seattle. Others maintain it began five hundred years ago. Others again say it began on 1 January 1994 when the Zapatistas launched their uprising on the night NAFTA became law in Mexico.

Thousands of groups today are all working against forces whose common thread is what might broadly be described as the privatisation of every aspect of life, and the transformation of every activity and value into a commodity for private ownership.

The oppositional threads, as different campaigns and movements, share the spirit of a radical reclaiming of the commons. While our communal spaces-town squares, streets, schools, farms, plants are being displaced into the marketplace, a spirit of resistance is taking hold around the world. Activist spaces are being created for people to begin the job of reclaiming bits of nature and restoring rights. In short, activists aren't waiting for the revolution, they are acting right now, where they live, where they study, where they work, where they farm.

Typically these anti-privatisation campaigns get under way on their own. But they also periodically converge-that's what happened in Seattle, Prague, Washington, Davos, Porto Alegre and Quebec. During the battles against NAFTA, there emerged the first signs of a coalition between organised labour, environmentalists, farmers and consumer groups within the countries concerned. They had recognised a common opponent, which has been gradually collectivising its control over the world's resources into an informal empire. These forces of dispossession (FoD) have been able to create a globalitarian world using the debt-based monetary system underlying modern banking.

The fight against globalisation has morphed into a struggle against corporatisation and, for, some, against capitalism itself. It has also become a fight for democracy.

La Via Campesina, a global association of small farmers-has launched a campaign to remove food safety and agricultural products from all trade agreements, under the slogan 'The World is Not for Sale'. They want to draw a line around the commons.

This is a cause that transcends nationality and state borders. The real news out of Seattle is that organisers around the world are beginning to see their local and national struggles-for better funded public schools, against union-busting and casualisation, for family farms, and against the widening gap between rich and poor-through a global lens. That is the most significant shift we have seen in years.

Still, if there is one force we can thank for bringing this front into being, it is the multi-national corporations. Thanks to the sheer imperialist ambition of the corporate project at this moment in history that they have created our coalitions for us. Thanks to Monsanto, farmers in India are working with environmentalists and consumers around the world to develop direct-action strategies that cut off genetically modified foods in the fields and in the supermarkets. The biggest challenge facing us is to distil all of this into a message that is widely accessible.

Rather than forming a pyramid, as most movements do, with leaders up on top and followers down below, the Occupy Movement was more like an elaborate web. In part, this structure is the result of internet-based organising, but it is also a response to the political realities that sparked the protests: the utter failure of traditional party politics.

So it is up to the grassroots to challenge the structures that make democracy toothless, like the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and so on. This is the only response at an ideological level to the understanding that globalisation is in essence a crisis in representative democracy.

What has caused this crisis? One of the basic reasons for it is the way power and decision-making have been handed along to points ever further away from citizens: from local to provincial, from provincial to national, from national to international institutions, that lack all transparency or accountability. What is the solution? To articulate an alternative, participatory democracy.

Ross Scholes [BSc; DipNatResMgt((PG); DipDevStud(PG)], presents issues like these in PEASANTS NZ, a New Zealand based website dedicated to the transition to sustainable self provisioning within the globalising context.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:







Forces Of Dispossesion


Anti Neoliberalism





Teenage rebellion is easier to tolerate in book or film form. Take a look back at some of the most well known and loved "coming of age" stories set in boarding schools.

By: Harvey McEwan l Arts & Entertainment l July 10, 2012 lViews: 445

An important thing you have to consider before working out is having a pair of great training shoes. You cannot immediately undergo any physical training wearing inappropriate footwear. If you do so,

By: Steve Hill l Recreation & Sports l July 10, 2012 lViews: 349

Granite is one natural stone that is used for several purposes from dimension stone to countertops to sculptures. The use of granite for building the temples and monuments was initiated millions

By: Steve L Patterson l Arts & Entertainment l July 10, 2012 lViews: 298

Up to 65,000 H-1B visas for new employment may be issued each fiscal year (FY) for professional workers, including medical providers. In general, a person who already has an H-1B and applies for

By: Ann Badmus l Arts & Entertainment l July 10, 2012 lViews: 308

Beside coin shooting, gold detecting or the many other things you can do with your metal detector. There is a large group of people who take their metal detector out looking for old stuff. Not just

By: Candy L Lindsey l Recreation & Sports l July 07, 2012 lViews: 293

Many people want to be writers and you may be one of them. In order to make your dream occupation a reality, you need to have a plan. You also need to work on this plan constantly. These tips from a

By: Harriet Hodgson l Writing & Speaking l July 06, 2012 lViews: 439

The quality of education being delivered varies across private and public schools. Private schools being more costly can only be afforded by the relatively affluent class, whereas, public schools

By: Ammad Alil News & Societyl June 29, 2012 lViews: 229

On September 11, 2001, I was in the Republic of Korea, sitting in a restaurant with my son having dinner. Suddenly, a Korean woman came running into the restaurant screaming something about twins

By: Leon P Prizl News & Societyl June 27, 2012 lViews: 141

How would you and your family handle emergencies? What would you do for emergency preparedness or disaster preparedness? Read on to get some good ideas.

By: Dave Artmanl News & Societyl June 24, 2012 lViews: 167

The whole village was agog with festivities and celebration. Every age group was involved. The fathers contributed money with which the slaughtered cow was purchased. The village elders had

By: John Irohl News & Societyl June 23, 2012 lViews: 157

In today's world fame is not merely seen as a by-product or as a consequence of achieving something; fame is pursued directly and as a goal in and of itself. With there being numerous examples of

By: Oliver J R Cooperl News & Societyl June 22, 2012 lViews: 183

Did you know that government auctions are a very good way of picking up all sorts of goods at reasonable prices? Many government agencies such as the customs, police, ATF or even FBI periodically

By: Rizvana Abdull News & Societyl June 22, 2012 lViews: 170

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus