The Park and the Party

collaboration is the key

By Alex Utopium

When we reduce societal organization to something that can only be done in exclusive, rather than inclusive, teams we miss the mark of the revolution against the old world Ivory Tower inhabitants. When what sort of party affiliation you swear your allegiance to is the deciding factor, rather than who you are and what you can contribute with, who really won the revolution? 

I am no friend of Party Politics.

I view party politics and Parliamentarism as one of the lowest form of democracy – and both party politics and Parliamentarism have kidnapped and infected the idea of being sovereign, having self-determination and being in a mental state of freedom for so long that even the brightest and most well-meaning souls use Democracy as a Power-Word, when they really mean something else they can’t quite identify themselves.

But, still, I have a weakness for the younger parties. [1] They are a fascinating bunch. With a wonderfully untainted and almost naive spirit in regards to the political process. Without an inherited place at the table of power that drags your ideas down to compromised principles there is a glimpse of something that ‘could be’. Something we as a society lost along the way. The most hopeful among us, the ones with a natural urge to change, make up most of the younger parties.

I had the pleasure of witnessing a (Norwegian) Green Party meeting at the microbrewery I work at. The last election went fantastic for the Greens, especially here in Oslo where they took a lot of local seats, so they had reason to celebrate – and to present what the different representatives were looking forward to do for the city as a  party.

A projector was set up to help in the meeting and when the gathering started, the projector was showing photos of the people in the crowd and the activist work they did during the election: Smiling, handing out pamphlets, and having a good time.

Lots of numbers had to be gone through first before any issues and plans could be discussed. Real politicians need to present numbers and talk with their political voice: Not in camaraderie or on an even footing, even these freshly baked representatives knew they had a role to play in the political theater and what was expected of them.

The projector stopped showing happy pictures and numbers started to get paraded out and I tuned out. These numbers were not meant for me: The abstract math of victory is for the initiated only. Everybody else lost, technically. 

I tuned back in when I heard a select few keywords from the stage: One of the representatives was explaining how her parents had an urban farm on their land lot when she was growing up, how they were almost self-sustaining (she mention 90%, if I recall correctly) on vegetables and that she had an idea of how wonderful it would be to do this kind of thing on a slightly larger scale: Her idea was to turn an underused park into a productive food-farm. Or at the very least, parts of the park.

The idea was great and she presented it from the heart; The projector that minutes ago showed dull numbers was now presenting childhood photos of a happy girl sitting between grow beds full of greens. She wanted to replicate this wonderful time and share it with as many as possible – Through action.

This hits at the core of why I like these smaller, more intimate parties; You won’t hear these kinds of fantastic ideas in a meeting by the Conservatives or the Labor Party. You can only hear it in a meeting of this size, in a small microbrewery in the neglected part of the country’s capital. The only time was then, right there.

In a flash, this magical moment was gone. The other party officials started muttering about budgets and that it would be complicated to raise funds for such a project. That punctuated that topic and they moved on to the next.

And this is why party politics leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. If you accept the role as a bureaucrat, this so-called job, you have to step into the mindset of one. You have to adapt to it and place yourself into a very tiny box of allowed ways to do things. Rules and regulations have to be upheld, your very existence depends on it: You are a cog in the machine and what is a cog without its machine?  

People that only think in terms of tax money have very little fantasy when it comes to more important resources around them. You don’t need to collect taxes when you have around 25,000 people living near the park – How many hands do you need to transform parts of a park? How many of those people have a shovel? How hard are seeds to get hold of for free? With that many people close by, you think you couldn’t find at least a handful to give up a little free time for the opportunity to farm? 

I don’t want to be in a party. I want to be in a team. A team that can take a slice of a park neglected by its ‘Landlord’ and turn it into fruit and herbs.

– Alex Utopium

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The true question is thus not who directly holds power, a coalition of political agents or the ‘dictatorship’ of one sole agent, but how the very field in which the total political process takes place is structured: is it the process of parliamentary representation with parties ‘reflecting’ the voters’ opinions, or a more direct self-organization of the working classes, which relies on a much more active role of the participants in the political process?” – Slavoj Žižek

Alex has written extensively on these and similar topics, and I am grateful for his contribution to my blog. Check him out:

  1. Some clarification for any American readers: The United States are almost unique with only two major players in party politics, the rest of the West have several where they need to negotiate with each other. Here in Scandinavia, for example, what Block your party belongs to is a key factor, at times more so than your party.

Published by Kim Broadie

Since I published the Janus article, I had almost given up thinking that we can change the direction of our country, as the Supreme Court decided that collective bargaining infringes on Mark Janus’ right to babble. Still, I am fascinated by how the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War have transformed the United States in ways unimaginable at the beginning of the 20th Century. Now, as the 21st century unfolds, these transformations have morphed into a new form of capitalism, surveillance capitalism. As AI takes over the production process, and CO2 keeps rising, we are in a race to find an equitable solution for guaranteeing a humane and flourishing world that will remain green and hospitable for human habitation. Philosophy, weak as it is, may yet show us the way back. Questions that go won’t away. Questions that will plague our dreams. Yes, Master Po, what is the Way?

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