More from Micah White
From the online article Two Paths Forward: The path forward is revealed in the rallying cry of the people in the streets: ”Not My President!” This protest slogan is eerily similar to the one used by Spain’s 15-M Movement of indignados who set up anti-establishment general assemblies in May of 2011 and chanted “No Nos Representan!” (“You Don’t Represent Us!”) during their election. Their assembles inspired the birth of Occupy. But when the refusal of the indignados to participate in the election resulted in a shocking victory for Spain’s rightwing, the movement’s activists and supporters quickly internalized an important lesson that American horizontalists must now embrace.
Realizing that new forms of social protest are better equipped to win elections than disrupt elections, many of the indignados transformed themselves into Podemos, a hybrid movement-party that is now winning elections and taking power. A similar story can be told of the Pirate Party in Iceland, or the 5 Star Movement in Italy or the pan-European DiEM25. Focus on the form, not the content, of these hybrid movement-parties for their organizing style is the future of global protest.
Concretely speaking, activists must reorient all efforts around capturing sovereignty. That means looking for places where sovereignty is lightly held and rarely contested, like rural communities. Or targeting sovereign positions of power that are not typically seen as powerful, such as soil and water district boards or port commissions. Protests will remain ineffective as long as there is no movement-party capable of governing locally and nationally.
This is a struggle for sovereignty. The endgame is a horizontalist and populist movement-party that wins elections in multiple countries in order to carry out a unified agenda worldwide. The spark for this planetary electoral movement is bound to emerge from an unexpected place.
It could start from an women-led backlash against the pack of patriarchs governing the globe: Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, Xi in China and now Trump in America. Or maybe activists will start moving into neglected rural cities—low population areas of America—and prepare to sweep city council elections. That is the strategy I’m pursuing in Nehalem, Oregon where I recently ran for mayor. In any case, avoid falling for the exhausting delusion of endless urban protest or the nihilistic fantasy of winning an insurrectionary war.
The difficult path of merging innovative protest, social movements, and electoral parties is the only viable way forward. And with only two years until the next election in America, there is no time to waste.