Excerpted from R.C. Smith:
“What is perhaps most vile about the political analysis emanating from out of many leftist groups today, is how so many tend to implicitly or explicitly treat people engaged in struggle as though they’re chess pieces in some sort of theoretical game: ‘a means toward an end’. There are so many ‘leftist’ theories as to what ‘social change’ might mean or look like, but these theories are often so bound up in an ever rigidifying political or theoretical framework that they tend to treat ‘the alternative’ the same way bureaucrats treat the young men and women who are about to be sent to die in some corrupt war.
In opposition to this sort of politics, an alternative philosophy of social change should recognise that sustainable change, at least historically speaking, has never really come as a result of a flash in the night revolution that many seem to idealise today (a la the French Revolution. Rather it is a transitory, integrative and holistic process. For this reason I often see a lot of good in small ‘everyday’ examples of people practicing life ‘alternatively’: from the local farmer who practices more sustainable agricultural methods to the alternative school that takes a more humane, holistic pedagogical approach to the community or organisation that continuously works toward ‘horizontality’ and alternative economic systems. These seemingly small events might not represent ‘the end’ and may even seem miniscule when held up against a globally corrupt system; but they offer in the very least concrete ‘guideposts’ in how we might do things differently in a particular area. In their very existence they contribute toward historical transition, and they do so in spite of facing extreme pressure from the current international political economy and its recent wave of neoliberal policy, which constantly tries to undermine their efforts.
In closing, this is one reason why I personally advocate that Occupy wasn’t a failure. Rather society failed Occupy. With Occupy what we witnessed were real people engaged in real struggle, who, rightly or wrongly, didn’t subscribe to the notion of traditional political engagement: the return of communism, an almighty revolution, or a new deified politic. It was far more grounded and concrete: formulating in a very human way viable, transitory networks of change like worker coops, participatory economic theories, alternative agriculture. These of course are not the end, but they’re concrete steps toward a more whole systemic alternative in the process of historical change (i.e., the notion of transitory change).”