Friday, April 1, 2011

there might be many a local victory

Excerpt from Jonathan Gordon-Farleigh, "A Preface," Stir Magazine, Spring 2011.

It is on this point, that Badiou's important intervention against Simon Critchley's claim that "all philosophy, political or religious, commences in disappointment" is very instructive. Badiou challenges the claim that political practice finds its origins in crisis by saying: "I think that we can have negative feelings, negative experience concerning injustice, the horrors of the world, terrible wars and so on. But all great movements in the political and historical field have been created, have been provoked not by that sort of negative feeling but always by a local victory. If we appreciate, for example, why we have during two years the great revolt of the slaves in the Roman Empire, under the leadership of Spartacus, it is not because slaves have the feeling of injustice....Because they always have that, it is their experience day after day. It is rather because in one small place, a small group of slaves finds new means, finally to create a victory. A small victory, a local victory."

Well then, what does a local victory look like? It is when academics publish their works in open access journals, it is when airport expansion is resisted and the threatened area is transformed into a community garden, it is when thousands of collaborators build a free software operating system, it is when those maintaining the commons from the intense privatization of our woods and forests defend them, as Edward Abbey always insisted, by using and enjoying it-cycling, walking, foraging. It is when medical researchers make their findings freely available by publishing under a creative commons license (Public Library of Science) that permits any company to manufacture generic reproductions of lifesaving drugs, it is when students find they cannot rely on suppliers to guarantee their food is ethically and locally grown so they teach themselves to set up member-owned and user-driven cooperative cafes that enables them to reclaim control over their food production, and when resident groups who are resisting energy monopolies find that the current legal system is inadequate to their problems and decide to create their own ordinance-a new Bill of Rights.

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