All posts by Mark Matos

Making Love Stay – promoting positive action

In Still Life With Woodpecker, Tom Robbins asked, “How do you make love stay?” This question is pertinent, in my view, as the occupy movement considers “where do we go from here?” Love, in the macrocosmic, can be thought of as a kind of vitality, an explosion of life energy, a sensation of unity, a bigness. As a movement in the most literal sense, moving/revolving, we are faced with the significant task of maintaining (expanding) the love/energy on whose waves the Revolution, as imagination, merely surfs.

In Jerry Rubin’s 1970 revolutionary manifesto Do It!, he suggests that an anti (anti-war, anti-poverty, anti-anything) movement can not sustain itself energetically, in effect it can only run on negative energy for brief spurts, so that eventually (in combination with ignoring, minimizing, demonizing and/or disrupting) the Powers That Be can wait out any anti movement with nervous confidence that it will, given a little time, go home.

Positive energy, on the other hand, is the Revolution’s sustainable energy. To stand in opposition to something is to be fractionalized and is by it’s nature a passive act. It is to define ourselves in opposition to a dominant, thereby contextualizing the relationship in a subordinator/subordinated paradigm and allowing the subordinator to define the terms, to draw the boundaries of the conversation. Reaction is passive-action as action is positive-action. Do we allow our actions to be guided by the actions of others or do we allow our actions to be guided by our values, our experiences, our suspicions and our imaginations?

Every passive-action functions as a mirror, reflecting the suggestion of positive-action. The anti-hunger activist who decides to stop spending their time petitioning signatures for a ballot measure to “fight hunger” and instead volunteers to help build community gardens in impoverished neighborhoods and educate people about the mechanics of growing/raising their own food source, instantly becomes pro-urban gardening and positively effects the production of food in his/her community. To dismiss this as a purely semantic argument is, I believe, to seriously underestimate the power of language in the harnessing/invoking of energy. Passive-action is abstract (holding a sign to end homelessness) while positive-action is tangible (squatting a vacant house). Passive-action waits for a revolution, Positive-action is in perpetual revolution, and performs revolutionary acts.

What we learn from the occupy movement is not that a group of people can hold signs in a park for longer than the establishment could have imagined, but that a group of people can form a voluntary association and establish imaginative models of community governance. That a group of people can come together in a circle without the help of the State or would be authorities and figure out how to provide themselves with healthcare, food, clothing, counseling, libraries and music festivals. We learn, above all, that a community is made of people and that the strength of a community is relative to the strength of it’s people. The Occupation has provided an example of radical models of social organization and our neighborhoods provide the opportunity to imaginatively explore those models through positive-action. To borrow a term from Chris Carlson, the revolution is nowtopian, and it is our charge to create the infrastructure of the future right here in our neighborhoods, to fashion a viable, alternate way of existing together as a people right now, and, by doing so, to Make Love Stay.

It is an illusion of the technocratic worldview that only through changing the macro can we change the micro. That only through petitioning the goodwill of the leaders of the free world can we effect change in our communities. It seems much more plausible that only through changing the micro can we change the macro. A number of individuals make up a neighborhood just as a number of neighborhoods make up a city and a number of cities make up a geographical region and so on and so forth until we are finally, always, citizens of the earth in solidarity, victims (or not) of the same circumstance: birth, death, and the space in between. The primary unit is one, the universe extends from there. The Revolution on the inside, through positive-action, manifests itself on the outside. And so we are left with you as the revolution and me as the revolution. We are challenged to become the Revolution we seek, to tear open our hearts, to strip away the cultural clothing that hangs on us like ill fitting, damp, and worn out rags. We are challenged to mix it up in the dirt a little (or a lot), to question everything and believe nothing until further evidence, and to add our odd fitting pieces to the puzzle, never completed.