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    Power comes from below


    Ida Josefiina ● August 18, 2020

    In the age of madness … Humanity embarks divided on a quest! One in competition to be as woke as AOC, the other paranoid their birth-right to privilege be faded away at the doorstep of equality. In a world where the only tool we hold is that of conversation, we have birthed a society that no longer tolerates discussion.

    It is SHE who YELLS the LOUDEST that WINS.

    Foucault’s {power comes from below} cites a “bottom-up analysis” of power, an attempt to show how power relations at the microlevel of society make possible certain global effects of domination. The vast polarization and division, that has seemingly swept through the world like a plague in recent years, has created entirely new realities and ways co-existing. In a flood of information, we’ve somehow become overwhelmed with facts and seem to find more satisfying levels of comfort in our beliefs and values, letting them blind us from the ability to negotiate, discuss and learn together, as society.

    I’ve spent over a week now trying to verbalize what I want to say without it sounding overly charged, theoretical, or beyond our tolerance for controversy. The purpose of this text is to question where power stems, how it is aggregated and distributed, and mainly to provoke thought on where our responsibilities lie within the equation. Early this year I went to a discussion with British Labour MP Dawn Butler. While I agreed with many of her ideas at the foundation, I was entirely horrified to witness the delivery. Her words and gestures positioned everything, even the most humane and kind policies she was fighting for, in an opposition: us against “them”, woman vs. man, white vs. black, rich vs. poor. She created an environment in the room that, most likely unintentionally, was spewing resentment towards “the other side” and furthering polarization. I told her my concerns afterwards, to which she responded, “Do you have a suggestion for an alternative? We have larger problems to solve.”

    Mind you, I am purposefully writing this from the perspective of the liberal movement because it is, specifically this phenomena, that we tend to fault and criticize the conservatives with. I think we have to put on our big-girl and big-boy pants, look in the mirror, and make sure we don’t break the one tool we have to function progressively as a society. Is it really so that the only way we can win is to yell louder, up the level of aggression in our words and forms of speech, and create a unified front so blindly strong it doesn’t allow for discussion, let alone disagreement?

    It seems we would rather control alt delete those who oppose our views, as we’ve somehow become so utterly convinced we are in the right. Cancel-culture is real, and in many cases of course, the phenomena has been crucial in holding accountable persons of power against malicious action. But there are severe side-effects here. From the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty, to leading academics shying away from expressing their views at the fear of being cancelled, we construct an environment where the norm is to discard anyone who does or says something we don’t like. Beyond the individual, and stretching back to Foucault’s theories of how the power relations we generate at this level enable domination at higher levels, we have to think about the consequences of this culture. Who are we giving the power to decide who will be silenced next?

    I recognize it’s a tricky game we’re playing, and I can understand the Dawn Butlers of the world feeling that fire against fire is the only way to win. But as leaders, creators, and protectors of civil movements, especially those fighting for equality, we have make sure that being woke isn’t a way to actually induce herd mentality.