Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Confession: I am a huge sociology nerd.

My camera batteries are dead again (again!! it's ridiculous!), so while they're on the charger, I will leave you all with a few quotes I have come across in my research. I love them, so much so that I printed them out and tacked them onto my bulletin board. Some are a bit heavier than others, because they come from theoretical books, but I like the point they are trying to make.

"We could then suggest: revolutionary action is any collective action which rejects, and therefore confronts, some form of power or domination and in doing so, reconstitutes social relations--even within the collectivity--in that light. Revolutionary action does not necessarily have to aim to topple governments. Attempts to create autonomous communities in the face of power (using Castoriadis' definition here: ones that constitute themselves, collectively make their own rules or principles of operation, and continually reexamine them), would, for instance, be almost by definition revolutionary acts. And history shows us that the continual accumulation of such acts can change (almost) everything."

That is from David Graeber's Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2005) on page 45. That book is very good, and short and funny, so I highly recommend it, even to non-anthropologists and non-academics.

"Unlike revolutionary struggles, which seek totalizing effects across all aspects of the existing social order by taking state power, and unlike the politics of reform, which seeks global change on selected axes by reforming state power, these [autonomous, non-hegemonic] movements/networks/tacticts do not seek totalizing effects on any axis at all. Instead, they set out to block, resist and render redundant both corporate and state power in local, national and transnational contexts. And in so doing, they challenge the notion that the only way to achieve meaningful social change is by way of totalizing effects across an entire 'national' or 'international' society."

That one is from Richard J.F. Day's Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements (2005) on page 45. I just noticed that both quotes come from page 45. Weird...

"Because when people only talk and don't listen, they end up thinking that what they say is the only thing that is worth anything. ... Because whoever takes themselves seriously has stopped with the thought that their truth should be the truth for everyone and forever."

Those two quotes are from Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, from the EZLN. All his things are available here.

Enjoy the nerdy social movement quotes, everyone, and Happy May Day!


Urban Vegan said...

You're not a nerd--you're a smart, considerate, cool lady! Thanks for enlightening us.

bazu said...

Perfect quotes for May Day. I struggle with how to reconcile revolutionary politics with contemporary life all the time. (hence, name of my blog...)

Theresa said...

Thanks for the kind words, UV.

Bazu--I'm hoping to look at autonomous social movements with my PhD research. Groups that don't even try to take state power seem more likely to succeed, and last. I think my research is as much to keep me motivated as it is to 'contribute an original work to academia'.

Amy said...

Yes, a great post for May Day (one day later where I am!). Here is a topical article I liked. Also, I know academia is a small world...do you know Damien Cahill who I think teaches at Wollongong?

Theresa said...

amy, I'm only new to both academia and this part of the world, so I haven't run into him or his work yet, but I just looked up his dissertation and got really excited. Thanks for that.