Freedom through Consensus

Posted: 20/11/2011 in Democracy, Freedom, Struggle


For Rocker, “the problem that is set for our time is that of freeing man from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement” ; and the method is not the conquest and exercise of state power, nor stultifying parliamentarianism, but rather “to reconstruct the economic life of the peoples from the ground up and build it up in the spirit of Socialism.”

From my limited knowledge of anarchism this perspective of social change leading to freedom is dominant, seeking “to reconstruct the economic life of the peoples from the ground up and build it up in the spirit of Socialism.” Whilst I completely agree that the system of exploitation through wage-slavery is the most overt example of the way our system exploits and enslaves, the process of enslaving is far from just an economic one. What about the mindsets of the people who accept their slavery? Why do so many accept the rights of the 1% to appropriate the wealth they have? Why do so many people accept that have to abdicate their personl power for the will of this 1%? These are mental processes and whilst it could be argued that these mental process could follow from an economic imperative, I feel that it is essential for freedom that we free humanity mentally as well as economically. These are concomitant strategies rather than one strategy of economic exploitation creating the mental conditions that lead to humanity’s subserviance. As a strategy for freeing society we cannot focus only on alleviating the economic conditions that lead to exploitation because the mindsets that have accepted such conditions would readily accept a differente exploitation. At the same time no amount of genuine free thinking can ever change a society where the economic imperative dominates as it does at the moment.

This of course is a mobilising position if we can move beyond our own particular demands or approaches. Throughout the world there are many who fight against economic injustice and yet at the same time there are many people whose spiritual journey moves them towards personal freedom. Would it be impossible to bring these people together working towards a broad freedom that is neither exclusively personal nor social? On a personl level the impediment to this is the religious institutions many of whose existence is dependent on donations – and therefore acceptance legally or otherwise by the 1%. And evidently the social system is controlled by the 1%. But libertarian thinking is common to both, and an appropriate rallying call.

What gives me hope that such a fusion – of personal and political freedom-seekers – is possible is the arising of consensus democracy in the Occupy movement. Throughout my own life, I have often been guilty of propounding positions especially on a personal level, many people have propounded intellectual dogma – I will always recall Doris Lessing’s use of the term “rhetoric dementia” to describe this. As individuals we must all have different mindsets but to impose one on another is what has led to such divisions amongst the 99%, and has enabled their manipulation of this huge majority. Consensus puts aside the need for dogmatism, we as individuals don’t matter what matters is mobilising as a movement. Collective strength is what is required. When I hear that clergy and unions are working together I feel hope. Whilst there are many seeking personal freedom in the workforce do they always back their union? How often does the collective strength of a union allow itself to be subverted for protective greed against the compassionate interests say of the Third World? These are not separate journeys in life but are movements to freedom on personal and social levels. Unity on a personal and social level can bring about freedom if we control our egos and work for consensus. Freedom through consensus.

(added to freedom page)

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