With the number of people choosing not to vote in the general election standing at 32.8% of the electorate as opposed to the 29.3% of the total electorate who voted for the ‘winning’ Tory party, it’s pretty clear that the outcome does not represent the wishes of the majority of the population. Yet, the unrepresentative party political system we have to endure lumbers on even though party politics is in a state of flux and chaos.
For the forseeable future, we face more austerity blighting our lives and if we don’t act, more division wrecking our communities. Putting it bluntly, if we want the more just, sane and sustainable world many of us desire, there’s no point in looking to political parties to provide that for us. Change has to come right at the grassroots and that can only happen if we work collectively in our communities on projects that aim to make a difference to peoples lives in the here and now.
Our sister project – Alternative Estuary – has always been about supporting the kind of grassroots projects that not only make a difference but empower those who are involved in them. If a community initiative is going to make a real difference, it has to be about mutual aid and solidarity rather than merely dispensing charity. Charity will always mean an unequal relationship between the giver who has the power to decide who can and cannot receive help and the recipient who is totally reliant on the goodwill of the giver. That’s unhealthy, disempowering and ultimately, toxic.
Our definition of a successful community project is one where there are no givers or recipients and everyone is collectively pulling together to help and lift each other. Working collectively on a community project is an ongoing learning experience and one that empowers people as they learn and become more confident and ambitious in their aims. It’s these projects that have the potential to build the foundations of the new world we all want to bring about.
To make us easier to control, our rulers want us reduced to atomised, selfish consumers who look to the power of the state to protect what ultimately, is an unsustainable and unhappy lifestyle. The last thing they want is us acting collectively in a spirit of mutual aid and solidarity. So, regardless of whether it’s a community run garden, a repair cafe, neighbourhood run food and school uniform banks, a resident run park – the list goes on – all of these are small acts of defiance against a system that wants to reduce us to little more than production and consumption units.
Regarding solidarity, everyone in a neighbourhood, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has a stake in making it a better place to live. It’s at the level of the neighbourhood that we can resist the toxic, divisive agenda that’s being pushed on us by the government. These bastards want us at each others throats because it makes us easier to control. Don’t give them the satisfaction – tell the divide and rule merchants where to go!
Make no mistake, the new Tory government will be cracking down on dissent, particularly street protests. What they can’t crack down on is people’s willingness to work together collectively in their communities to bring about real change. This is where the resistance to an increasingly toxic system will be taking place…let’s get on with it!