Note — Nov 20, 2022

To Doubt, to Question, to Say ‘Enough’

Anab Jain, writing for CIVIC SQUARE’s Reimagining Economics Possibilities series, introduces in more detail the practice of “critical activism.” Jain builds on the writings of Ursula K Le Guin, Murray Bookchin, Peter Kropotkin, and Anna Tsing to develop a lexicon to help us go from capitalist modernity—“an unrestrained form of capitalism, ‘further disengaged from the needs of ordinary citizens and workers than anything we have known since the nineteenth century’”—to a precarious flourishing “where unexpected alliances emerge from the debris of what has passed (Anna Tsing).”

The article goes into some detail on how the practice and the lexicon were evolved, I’ll let you have a closer read and mention that the visual with two columns of terms is especially evocative, showing interdependence taking the place of individualism, entanglements of autonomy, ecological resurgence of human progress, and emergent mythologies of grand narratives.

“Whilst writing from inside capitalist modernity, I want to focus on that which lives on in the cracks of it, grows out of it organically, sprouting and entangling. I want to look forward, into the ruins of the Anthropocene, its uneven landscape, its many textures and viscosities, its pluralities and multiplicities.” […]

[M]any interdependent, multidimensional worlds coexist at once. This is to say that the world is plural; it is inclusive of different voices in dialogue, rather than opposition or competition. As such, it is founded on care for one another, for all beings and the planet, and this care holds us together. This world sees diversity in perspectives as a strength, and actively welcomes divergent views to tackle common goals. Technologies within this world are non-extractive and create a greater connection to-and-with the communities they serve. […]

Myths are atemporal; they are as old as they are new, they have been around forever and are yet to come. They help us move past ideas of ‘new futures’ to a deeper understanding of our place in history, embedded in those countless sedimentary layers of our landscapes. […]

Critical activism is activating our capacities for questioning, that in turn ignites in us the knowledge that things don’t have to be the way they always have been. Such knowledge is already in our intuition, our instincts, our spirit and to approach it with criticality — to come to it with empty hands — (and to quote Le Guin one final time) — we will seek to ask questions rather than come up with answers.