The Awakening

A radical situation is a collective awakening. . . . In such situations people become much more open to new perspectives, readier to question previous assumptions, quicker to see through the usual cons. . . . People learn more about society in a week than in years of academic “social studies” or leftist “consciousness raising.” . . . Everything seems possible — and much more is possible. People can hardly believe what they used to put up with in “the old days.” . . . Passive consumption is replaced by active communication. Strangers strike up lively discussions on street corners. Debates continue round the clock, new arrivals constantly replacing those who depart for other activities or to try to catch a few hours of sleep, though they are usually too excited to sleep very long. While some people succumb to demagogues, others start making their own proposals and taking their own initiatives. Bystanders get drawn into the vortex, and go through astonishingly rapid changes. . . . Radical situations are the rare moments when qualitative change really becomes possible. Far from being abnormal, they reveal how abnormally repressed we usually are; they make our “normal” life seem like sleepwalking.

—Ken Knabb, The Joy of Revolution

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  1. Silver Ghost says:

    I came across this by Ken Rabb quite independently, earlier today, and found it echoed here. It may be that we are rapidly entering into a time when many people will speak about ‘the situation’, ‘the common lot’ and the future in ways that the ordinary tram-lines of social intercourse did not require – a time when people ask each other, “Well what do you think? or What does that mean to you?” Every day we wake up and ‘who am i’, what day is it’ and ‘do i have to wake up, get up and do something’ dawns automatically.
    I can’t be the only individual waking up to a more profound kind of questioning, like ‘what’s really going on here and what to do about it’? I mean in economic and political terms. There is a sea-change afoot. Is there a mass awakening? Is there revolution in the air? I think that, at least, the first proposition is true. As for the rest, I wonder what others are thinking, how they see things and can other help me to make sense of this change I sense in the air.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I think people are awakening as relations become clearer and means of control of communication fall apart. I’m particulalry inspired by the hope that people might awaken to the realities of the British State as well as corporate power.

  2. Silver Ghost says:

    I will say one thing from the outset, I am wary of calls for revolution. Discontent is an integral part of the human condition and so easy to exploit. Then there are the ideologues, the schools of thought and the subversive who exploit every crack and crevice of the social structure in order to prosecute an agenda. I look at Egypt, where Mubarak has gone and dubious others vie to take his place. Revolution, as in France, Russia [and many other revolutions] have written their messy and bloody histories into school text-books. There is the revolution and then there is the aftermath as ‘power possessors’ re-establish themselves and become the new elite, the new oppressors. So, from the outset, I declare myself to be cynical and suspicious of the outcome of revolutionary movements.
    At the same time, I am very well aware that all is far from right. “Man is born free yet is everywhere in debt” – to paraphrase Jean Jacques Rousseau. That is my starting point.
    I start from the question of debt upon the shoulders of the, as yet, unborn.
    That is my discontent.

  3. Silver Ghost says:


    I agree with you, there are many facts, issues and blind assumptions that we all have and, towards which, we are capable of waking up to. It is the awakening, the questioning, the self-questioning and the accounting of moral scruples that matters.
    I see myself as experiencing this and not in the position of being right, while others are wrong, wise where others are foolish or leading, rather being involved in a process of discovery. The only constant is change, yet it is the basis, the nature and intentionality that informs the change that determines whether the impetus, the means and the result is wholesome.
    The easy path is that of least resistance, to specify and blame others, the harder, and more promising, is to change oneself and the way one engages with those ‘powers that be’ one wishes to, in turn, reform.
    There is great impetus behind the status quo, Normally it is not possible to alter its course, never mind turn it around. However, as the article which sparked this discussion indicated, these are not ordinary times and, with conscious and conscientious diligence, better outcomes are possible. I speak with respect for ‘the establishment’ but I am not part of it. I do not represent anything or anyone apart from myself. I do not represent any ideology, any party or any platform.

    I go to some length to make these things clear in the beginning.

    I agree with you @bellacaledonia in a second way. The current state of affairs evidences two major problems, they are:

    The influence of the corporate sector, through lobbying and ‘cronyism’ upon the House of Parliament.

    The influence of the Federal Reserve/Bank of England – which are supposed to be independent, yet work through major banks to reinforce corporate/banking power and impoverish taxpayers by making speculative banking losses the burden of taxpayers now and in perpetuity.

    In this way, private, speculative scams and losses become taxpayers burdens and result in the slavery of democratic populaces e.g see Greece, Ireland… and all of us – unless the game changes.

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