7 and 29
Seven years ago we here in Halifax hosted a People's Summit, the P7, which ran parallel to the meeting of the heads of the G7 nations, and I played a small role it the P7's unfolding. Nearly 30 years ago the forces of elitist authoritarianism lead by General Pinochet overthrew the elected government of Chile, under Salvadore Allende with the complex structures that comprise western democracies projecting power to ensure the military junta's success and I, as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, played a small role in that unfolding.
Looking back over those two periods I wonder at what is common and find two threads intertwined and running through what I see as the fabric of social justice: as a Marxist I hold to a belief that our understanding of self and others is conditioned by our material circumstances; as a Buddhist I believe that our happiness and authentic presence is obstructed by false beliefs concerning the nature of our situation. What I see as social justice is not so much the mere presence or absence of plenty and surplus, but our relationship to whatever plenty and surplus obtains. Is the neurotically anxious middle-manager in his suburban comfort less symntomatic of economic injustice than the single parent exhausted by his or her three part-time jobs? Whether the innocent Jew in the work-camp of the complacent Nazi who's memberhip in the party was a career requirement, neither can lead the dignified life of responsible citizenship that is foundational community. Injustice unacknowledged violates the integrity of the perpetrator as well as the victim.
What I hope, when I imagine a local response to this June's visit of the G7 finance ministers, is an exploration of our agenda: how can we most clearly present our view of emancipation to those who preach moniterization and privatization as the highest goods? What are the actions items to which we demand the elected representatives attend? How can we communicate our objections to the globalization of capital so that the largest number can see that another world is, not only possible, but absolutely necessary, so that we can quite properly address this as a community pursuing its intelligent interests?
Remembering the many whose activism dates back to A20 and the FTAA conference in Quebec City, I'm reminded that my point here is to express my personal resonance, my perception of my own need ... to express again the clear and unchanging basis of the resistance that has informed by life for three decades and more: until and unless we the people freely and democratically act with an eye to human need, we will be swept along and used as replacable machine parts in the apparatus that works to concentrate wealth in the hands of those who are already wealthy.
With an ever more well informed view of the global, can we come together to share our experiences and express our grievances? As though the politicians were willing to hear, can we come together and draft our petitions? Can we at least remind them that we are more than data, and that there is more in the world than their spreadsheets can present?