Why what we do IS political

This is an expanded version of a piece that was originally published on our sister blog, Alternative Estuary.

Politics – a definition:

Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, ‘affairs of the cities’) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The academic study of politics is referred to as political science.

From Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics

The above seems a pretty reasonable definition of what politics is, albeit that it makes no mention of power structures. Over the years, when we’ve been involved in supporting grassroots projects, we’ve met a fair few people who are very passionate about what they do but recoil at the suggestion that they’re in any way political.

Given the state of party politics and that the scope of debate and potential change in the party political system we currently live under is actually pretty narrow, people can be forgiven for wanting to turn their backs on what they think is politics. Also, a fair few people think the political system exists to serve vested interests which work against our interests.

Maybe it’s time we reclaimed the word ‘politics’ and show that it’s about a heck of a lot more than the party political system. Politics to us is bringing about radical change from the grassroots upwards, not just sticking a cross on a piece of paper every few years and hoping for the best. That’s what we’re trying to do with our Alternative Estuary project.

There seems to be a bit of a misconception in some quarters that what we’re doing with Alternative Estuary is a bit ‘fluffy’ and consequently, not very political. We’d like to dispel those notions.

What we’re about is encouraging grassroots projects that make a community more self reliant and less dependent on an increasingly dysfunctional economic system propped up by an ever more authoritarian state. As we’ve mentioned a fair few times before, it’s about building the new world we want in the shell of the dystopian one we’re forced to currently endure.

It’s about building the collective self reliance we need to start running our affairs and building our lives to suit our needs rather than those of capitalism, the corporations and the politicians and state structures that support them. That means we support and encourage initiatives that build this self reliance and enable us to start cutting our ties with a system that to be blunt, does not exist to meet our needs.

What we do is two pronged. One is to offer the kind of challenge to the system that unlike street protests, can fly for a fair bit longer under the radar before the state and the corporations take notice and try to crush us. The other is to start meeting our needs and living in a way that suits our needs and aspirations.

Let’s take one example…food. We’ve written a fair bit about this before but it’s worth repeating. The more control a community has over its food supply, the less dependent they are on a complex food supply chain that exists for profit and is ultimately unsustainable. Also, as we’ve seen over the last year, the complex, ‘just in time’ food supply chain we rely on can quite easily be thrown out of kilter with consequent shortages.

With growing your own food, you can take easy steps with just a few vegetable beds in the back garden, or go all the way through to complete communal self sufficiency. There’s no one size fits all template that has to be followed. However, what can be said is that the more early success you have, the more lessons you learn from those and also your failures, the more confident and ambitious you’ll become.

When you start off with growing your own, you’ll probably be still reliant on external inputs such as seeds, compost, etc. As you gain experience and confidence, you can reduce and eventually eliminate those inputs to the point where you’re moving towards full self sufficiency. Compost is one of the easy ones to quickly become self sufficient in.

This is particularly the case when it comes to seeds. The more you can keep a number of seeds aside after each harvest for use the next year, the more independent you become. Remember, who controls the seed supply controls the food system. Make sure it’s you controlling it rather than the big corporations such as Monsanto!

As we go further into a very challenging 2021, we’ll be putting more of our thoughts about this up on the Alternative Estuary blog. Some of those will involve a look at Local Exchange Trading Systems (a.k.a. LETS) and how they could be implemented and leveraged to start moving us away from dependence on the money system.

We hope this piece has dispelled a few misconceptions. We’re not fluffy, we mean business when it comes to building the new world we want!

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