Year of activism #33

Governance and ways of making decisions has been in lots of conversations lately and any activist comes across the relationship between decision-making and power on a regular basis. How decisions are made, the process of deliberation, the mechanisms and tools to enable clarification to lead to action are usually imperfect and iterative. So often we look for the definitive – the one way – of coming to a decision – when in fact there are many ways. An activist helps to show other ways, and the minority view is a gift to the whole to foster possibilities, although often not valued by the system and considered, sometimes even named as being other, and in clumsy democratic processes, where one person equals one vote, it is possible that being voted down is a form of silencing and control. Power and privilege come with processes that support those who know how to mobilise and persuade … that doesn’t necessarily mean arriving at a wise decision.

I have found a number of discernment practices used by religious communities powerful and useful, where the goal is to arrive at consensus and a shared vision of going forward. I understand there are practices in First Nation cultures that are similar, although I have not experienced these as a peer and participant, I have been alongside and welcomed into processes as observer and friend. I think we have a lot to learn, those of us, who are more familiar with the processes that are used to keep the power and privilege with the elite, even when, like me, we know how to use it for just and equitable results. There is however no peace without justice, and righting wrongs, hearing the pain into speech, art and craft are all part of our common journey to liberation from being oppressor or oppressed.

I can’t get past in my homeland of Australia, the work we have to do around a just settlement, decolonisation and a full-some recognition of the truth this land was stolen. It hits me every now and again, I have the privilege of not being reminded of it every day, I can turn on my selective amnesia or fall asleep at the wheel of freedom, because typically my hands are on that wheel. I have so much power and so much privilege. I am surrounded by systems that recognise and even take me for granted as having status in so many ways – educated, English speaking, housed, economically secure, healthy, digitally savvy …. the list goes on … I do not have to tick boxes that often that put me in “other” categories to be turned into invisible blancmange. I get to pick and flick boxes that have a postcode, an address, a job description, an age group, a language group. I am a first world contributor to an algorithm that like me, delivers a finite sequence of instructions to solve problems or set the conditions for specifications that will deliver results to suit me, my world view, and other people just like me.

The data developed and automated because of my contributions and the boxes I tick, also exclude. And just as on earth, as it is in computer cloud heaven, the dominant paradigm colonises and closes down those that don’t fit – they get to the “other” boxes. I am a long way from understanding, knowing and therefore have no wisdom around how digital exclusion works and the way forward for data sovereignty. I instinctively know this form of colonisation is just as treacherous as boats in full sail arriving into harbours without being invited.

I like to keep Facebook algorithms on their toes and post odd things from time to time that push me into a niche for marketing that seems a long way from what I might really be like. I am currently enjoying being the target of dating, dieting and high heel shoe purchases. For the record I am not interested in dating, and haven’t worn high heel shoes for many a long day. I am trying to eat more healthy foods and taking long walks, but I wouldn’t call it dieting! Being a keyboard warrior in these times, is often termed “slacktivism”, it is a form of activism and I encourage you to think about how you might help those algorithms along by supporting vigorously the things that matter to you from a wide range of sources and throw in the odd surprise too, so the machine learning and systems underpinning your online presence learn in ways that will help the echo chamber be a little less echoey.

As I said a number of years ago I am a tweeter for good and if we aren’t in these places, we are abandoning the online streets to the online hoodlums and thugs. Understanding the value and place of online communications, purchases and consumer behaviour on the web means we can claim and reclaim these spaces too in the same way we can reclaim the streets from rapists and gangs.

I am sure there is an activism algorithm out there, let’s disrupt that too and make the pathways for justice together.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

5 thoughts on “Year of activism #33

  1. Doug Jacquier

    Hi, Moira. Articulate and challenging as always. My rants are too long for a FB post and I don’t tweet, hence the old-fashioned blog response 😉

    I think decision-making processes need to be suited to the circumstances and practicality, within a framework that most accept as fair most of the time. Otherwise groups, for example, trying to agree on where to go for dinner would never go out. 😉 We’ve all seen the tyranny of the hold-out on consensus being used as a power play and we’ve all seen the landscape littered with feral camels resulting from committees tasked with horse design. And don’t get me started on romanticising decision-making practices in Indigenous communities.

    Like you, I always rejoice at being able to tick the ‘Other’ box so as to feel a modicum of uniqueness and to mess with algorithms but in order to do so we have to reluctantly accept that the digital world has become necessary to be heard in a paperless world. I abhor the holier-than -thou term ‘slacktivism’, with all of its associations with ‘cancel culture’. The fact that someone has taken the time to say ‘up with this I will not put’ is a cause for hope, not despair.

    The real vacuum I see in our society is in courageous leadership (like you have shown all your life) that listens but then acts decisively to move us all to a better place in the long run. And I am in despair at the ever-growing black rabbit hole that ‘everyone is an expert’ is leading us to (who would have thought Australia had 5 million epidemiologists and 2 million vaccine researchers?).

    Two quotes from H L Mencken to end:
    ‘There is always a well-known solution to every human problem that is neat, plausible, and wrong.’
    ‘The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy!’

    Take care and keep ticking the wrong boxes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Year of activism #33 – Brian’s Reflections

Love to read your response to this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s