A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics
American activists must move from detached indignation to revolutionary engagement by using the techniques of social movement creation to dominate elections.
Concretely speaking, activists must reorient all efforts around capturing sovereignty. That means looking for places where sovereignty is lightly held and rarely contested, like rural communities. Or targeting sovereign positions of power that are not typically seen as powerful, such as soil and water district boards or port commissions. Protests will remain ineffective as long as there is no movement-party capable of governing locally and nationally.
This is a struggle for sovereignty. The endgame is a populist movement-party that wins elections in multiple countries in order to carry out a unified agenda worldwide. The spark for this electoral movement is bound to emerge from an unexpected place.
It could start from a women-led backlash against the pack of patriarchs governing the globe: Putin in Russia, Erdoğan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, Xi in China and now Trump in America. Or maybe activists will start moving into neglected rural cities – low-population areas of America – and prepare to sweep city council elections. That is the strategy I’m pursuing in Nehalem, Oregon, where I recently ran for mayor. In any case, avoid falling for the exhausting delusion of endless urban protest or the nihilistic fantasy of winning an insurrectionary war.
The difficult path of merging innovative protest, social movements and electoral parties is the only viable way forward. And with only two years until the next election in America, there is no time to waste.
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Micah White was a key organizer of the Occupy Wall Street protests. In December 2014, Esquire Magazine named Micah White one of the most influential under 35-year-olds. He is the former editor of Adbusters magazine. He lives in Nehalem, Oregon, and his first book, The End Of Protest: A New Playbook For Revolution, was published by Knopf Canada in 2016.