Jane Doe worked so very hard that she kept her head down and barreled right into a deep rut. Not only did she barrel into a deep rut, but the people inhabiting that rut wouldn’t let Jane leave. They liked having Jane around for emotional reasons, but there were pragmatic aspects also. With Jane stuck in their rut there was little to do other than pull her weight. Though sometimes, really often times, or even most of the time, the rut’s inhabitants would scurry off to tasks further along the rut and leave Jane to execute responsibilities that far superseded pulling her weight. Actually she did so by a long shot. Jane became disillusioned with the people within the rut, but it also impaired her thinking and slowed her down. She was so preoccupied by tasks and demands posed by those in the rut that she really couldn’t focus on ways to get out properly. Jane really had no excuses for remaining in the rut. She only convinced herself that she must accept everything within the rut. If she accepted everything and questioned nothing, there would be no controversy. There would be no responsibility. There would be nothing but the tall, narrow walls of the rut and the tiny tasks to execute within it. Jane wasn’t stuck in a rut. She was cowering in a rut.
… The more a government legislates on our day to day activities, the less we take ownership of those activities ourselves. We begin to lose the ability of self-determination in our responsibilities, and as a consequence we have nothing else to fall back on apart from the rigid framework of state diktat. The disempowerment suffered by individuals under the thumb of the state leads to a stupefaction of social intercourse, and a learned helplessness that infects an ever increasing number of our daily interactions.
These observations do not lead me to a negative conclusion in regards to the human condition and our potential for creating autonomous order in a stateless society. Far from it, the same human characteristics that lead to seemingly defeatist and subservient social patterns, are the very characteristics that will enable our liberation from this malaise.
Humans are not fixed moral beings with an unchanging socio-psychological makeup; we are adaptive and complex. We are programmed as individuals to survive at all costs, but the survival methods we adopt are dependent on the environment we find ourselves in. When the state creates an environment where survival of the individual is best served by adopting an ‘it’s more than my jobs worth’ attitude, then community – which is an emergent property of our need to survive in nature – begins to fade away. …
Above all, I am an individual who desires to create my life and my relationship to the world and to other people on my own terms. This is why I am an anarchist. Therefore, my anarchist perspective is egoist and I take from all perspectives that I find useful in developing and carrying out my anarchist project.
From individualism, I take the primacy of the freedom of every individual to determine the conditions of her or his existence in free association with others as the central aim of revolutionary struggle and also a recognition of the necessity of individuals to begin to reappropriate life here and now in revolt against this society to the extent to which they are able.
Indignados: austerity as a violation of human rights
The Movement that Deconstructed the Crisis
“The struggle for our rights as human beings underlies everything we have demanded in every square and every demonstration in this historic year of global change”, proclaimed Take the Square in their Call for an Alternative Day of Action on Human Rights Day. Since its emergence, the indignados movement has engaged in a twofold process concerning human rights: on the one hand, the movement identifies and denounces the flaws of the current system that have led to a widespread violation of human rights, specifically economic and social rights.
The movement was born in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, in the context of a wave of protest that swept across Europe in reaction to the austerity measures chosen to address the crisis and the “financialization” of the global economic space. Since its emergence in May 2011, the indignados have been actively engaged in a public debate about the crisis and have promoted a deliberative process of deconstructing the mainstream discourse of political and economic power surrounding the global crisis, providing an alternative explanation of its causes and consequences. The indignados denounce the fact that economic interests have been prioritized over the interests and rights of the people; they appeal to human dignity, whose reverse side is indignation.
On the other hand, the indignados are attempting to fill in the vacancies of the current system with their own communal spaces, guided by the principles of solidarity and self-organization and involving a collective protection of socio-economic rights. The occupy movements all over the world have one thing in common, as Mike King argues: they all consider that the failures of the existing order, and the current global economic crisis, are an opportunity to fill the vacancies of a dying world while building a better one.
When the present social order makes life impossible for large numbers of people, these people will self-organize inside their communities while fighting for a just society that meets peoples’ needs. These movements, as such, are experimenting with new ways of ensuring human rights: their struggle is not only about being granted specific rights by governments, but it is also part of a larger political uprising in which people are starting to determine for themselves what they need and how they can help each other fulfill these needs.