Journal of Aesthetics & protest

Conversations and Theory in
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issue 7

A Critical Look at Issue 7

by Lucy Dinnen (editorial intern Summer 2009)

   Working on Issue 7 of Journal of Aesthetics and Protest brought to light the very unique and unprecedented global situation we are in. When working on the Issue I found the concept od Global/ Local becoming more and more prominent. The idea that the current problems we face are global, yet the solutions we see working are local. The question is how can we maintain the momentum for local operations and promote them on a global scale. The concept of alternative structures as structures which exist outside of the market could refer to any level of social structure, be that borrowing a cup of milk from a neighbour to organising a protest. It is here in these diverging examples that the essence of the scale of solution becomes even more poignant.

However, in reference to Issue 7 these ideas are largely related to sustainability and a vastly vulnerable and diminishing collection of global resources, from food to finances. The Issue reports on a number of projects which exist outside of the market and act as localised solutions to the current need to reappropriate a sense of ownership, community and control. These projects all share the common goal of collectively producing or sharing resources needed by the community, from food growing to in Baltimore to Swap meets in LA, from Coops in Spain to Climate Camps in the UK.

The most intriguing and fearsome situation that these projects allude to though is as follows; Capitalism as a structure relies of the concept of demand and supply, scarce resources are essential to raise prices and thus profits. However, if we can genuinely create resources which are not scarce, are local, are shared and collectively distributed, capitalism does not work so although certain governments preach sustainability it would fundamentally destroy the very foundation of the capitalist system. This is why the treatment and interrogation of people who are working towards this goal is so dubious- see the Dara Greenwald interview with Will Potter. This article is vital in understanding why we need to persevere with alternative structures, in the wake of repression and fear, in order to reach a wider goal of sustainability and control over our own lives and resources.

As people strive to lead more responsible sustainable lives, government forces may keep preventing these structures from growing through the green terrorist policies amongst others meaning that these structures will remain few and far between and may dwindle away as the current fashion for ‘green’ changes and it becomes more difficult and more effort is needed to maintain these structures outside of the market.

It is hard, as an eternal cynic, to see these movements as something separate from the current fashion for green. Hopefully there are many alternative structures which can maintain themselves outside if the market and regardless to changing fashions but it is not necessarily a fact and that is why we must promote alternative structures and aim to encourage more local/global operations whether they share time, such as the Echo Park Time Bank, or whether they share resources such as the Hillside Food Cooperative. We need to understand our communities in order to work against the current globalised problems and begin to reach the essence of ownership of our collective futures.