Category Archives: Government

[Video/Music] Words of freedom, words of hope

[Video/Music] Words of freedom, words of hope

Listen to this song. Kelmti Horra, ‘my word is free’, sung by Emel Mathlouthi at a mass sit-in.

What you hear is the sound of hope.

“I am those who are free and never fear,”1 she sang, as the Tunisian people rose up to topple the dictator. Yes, that revolution may have been followed by an electoral victory for Islamists, but few revolutions ever attain total liberation. No, make that none.

That is the way of the world. Some regime grows abusive; eventually the people rise up and topple it; a new regime comes instead, and before long it abuses the very people who put it in power. Perhaps it is not as cruel as that which it replaced; all the better for the new rulers, as they know the people will consider them better than their predecessors, and be hesitant to rise up again.

But the way of human freedom – of free thought – is the way of the constant revolution. The old king is dead, long live the new king – for a while, until he grows cruel and we again grow weary and it is, again, time to replace him.

No regime that is abusive towards its people can last forever. Eventually, someone will stand up and say, “I am the free people of the world. I am like a bullet.”

And then, the cycle begins again.

Know hope.

Footnotes

  1. I got the English translation of the lyrics from here. []

Was der Deutsche nicht kennt / Ignorance and bris

This is a post I wrote in German about the recent German court ruling equating ritual circumcision to bodily harm, thus making it illegal. That decision has been followed by similar decisions in Austria and Switzerland. An English translation of the post can be found below. Continue reading Was der Deutsche nicht kennt / Ignorance and bris

Politics is not for everyone – even in a direct democracy

Democracy is about allowing people to participate – even if only a minority takes an active role most of the time.

I’m often asked how many people really participated in School Meetings at Sudbury Jerusalem – as if it’s less democratic when fewer people choose to participate. But actually, low participation at meetings can be a sign that democracy is working well.

 

When we started Sudbury Jerusalem, for a few weeks we had a School Meeting every day.

Most of the proposals, at first, came from those who had been in and around the founding process – mainly staff and children of staff. I was a student and a co-founder, and one of the most active participants.

It took months – dozens of Meetings – for the process to become so established in the school’s culture that many other students made proposals. In parallel, as time went by, fewer and fewer students regularly took part in School Meetings. Continue reading Politics is not for everyone – even in a direct democracy

State oppression and universalistic nationalism

The largest ethnic group as percent of total p...
The largest ethnic group as percent of total population. (Via Wikipedia)

I’ve never been much of a fan of nationalism, or the nation-state. The idea seems to me based on imagined communities, and to invite xenophobia, exclusion, and racism. Most of all, it seems particularist (concerns itself with a small group of people) and I’m a universalist by nature (concerned with all people everywhere.)

However, a recent piece by Yoni Eshpar [Hebrew] allowed me to understand a universalist version of the nation-state ideal.

If I get this right, the idea is this: every person in the world should belong to a group of people called a “nation”; every such “nation” should live in a state in which they are able to participate (ideally, via democratic process); the states should exist to serve the “nations” that participate in it. So in the end, since every person is part of a “nation”, and every “nation” is served by a state in which it can participate, every person in the world has a part of the world to call home, where there is a state that serves and protects them.

This is a nice ideal – but it is woefully unrealistic and will never be achieved. Continue reading State oppression and universalistic nationalism

Ignore the young

State education is no longer about making sure students acquire key skills – it’s only about giving the adults the good feeling of having really given it a go.

Traditional schooling and Sudbury schooling have one central idea in common: the result of schooling should be that young people are prepared for life as adults.

The similarities, of course, more or less end there.

One difference I find very curious. Continue reading Ignore the young

Everything’s political

Oh, you don't care about politics? That's cool, the rest of will decide you future for you.Everything you do is political, because not trying to change anything is simply working to keep things as they are.

There’s a song by Skunk Anansie called Yes, It’s Fucking Political. I don’t it hear often, but I’m hearing right now. When I first heard it several years ago, I don’t think I really understood it. “Yes, it’s fucking political! / Everything’s political!” Seemed kind of vague. I only really understood it a few months ago, reading an interview in unerzogen magazin with a couple who decided not to tell anyone outside the family about their young child’s biological gender. The point was made there with incredible clarity, and I’d like to argue it here. Continue reading Everything’s political