Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Vive la Revolution!

I do not cope terribly well with being busy. For the past year I have been working, and living, a part time lifestyle. I would like to say I spent my time productively, like re-reading interesting books from my undergraduate days or learning a new skill. Unfortunately I spent most of my time hitting refresh on Facebook and Twitter. Rock on, sister.

This weekend I volunteered to help out at Document 9, a human rights film festival. I can honestly say I had such a blast and a few instances of serendipity. The highlight came on Sunday evening when I was given a free ticket to watch How To Start A Revolution. After watching the film, I realised I had been waiting for this for years.

The documentary is about Doctor Gene Sharp, author of a little book called From Dictatorship to Democracy. Originally written to help the Burmese in the 1980s, this book has spread across the world as a vital tool in overthrowing dictatorships. Sharp's work has been credited with aiding non-violent revolutions including Serbia, Georgia and, more recently, Egypt. It contains 198 tools for non-violent protests against figures of power. It sounds so simple, so beautiful, so logical. Sharp's work doesn't claim to fix all wrongs in a society shaped by dictatorship. But his work is a delightful alternative to people that want to show their discontentment with the society they live in. I was reading parts of the book on my morning commute and kept muttering "That's brilliant" to myself. Unsurprisingly no-one sat next to me on a busy bus. I like Gene Sharp's method of revolution much better than the blood that has been shed recently in Libya.

His words are spreading. Already they're being adopting by the Occupy Glasgow moment (and putting their own stamp on it) and I'm sure his name has already cropped up in other Occupy movements across the world.

This has been a week of revolution on an international and personal level. For the first time in years I actually feel like there's a real sense of change in the air. When I hear the phrase "We are the 99%" I feel like I belong to a political group that represents me. In the last election I spoiled my ballot paper. There, I've admitted it. I had to vote, it's simply something I have to do to honour all the women (and men) who fought for my right to do so. But, when faced with a ballot paper, I thought "I can't imagine a single member of these shower of shites representing my best interests." So I drew a big cross across the paper.

Democracy - it seems such a hollow word. Growing up I knew it was important and something to be respected. The Occupy movement is a fine example of non-violent democratic protest. I feel excited, almost like a paradigm is shifting under my feet. The masses are getting pissed off about their power being chipped away. It's time to reclaim it from the 1%. I'll be standing there, with my copy of From Dictatorship to Democracy tucked under my arm.

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