Siraj Izhar | publiclife on Sat, 8 Aug 2020 22:11:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 10th anniversary of Democracy Village

July 20th was the tenth anniversary of the eviction of the tent city Democracy Village at Parliament Square. But on its significance I had meant to write something earlier but it proved difficult with local BLM related meetings in July.
But here it is for anyone interested in that tent occupation experiment:

"It is futile to analyse Democracy Village in terms of sharp revolutionary agendas that some had set out because no one agenda could have fitted its time. With its rag-tag mix of activists and the homeless, many ex-servicemen returning from war, the village lived on the solidarity bound by its everyday. Life in a traffic island consumed the revolution, so life /became/ the revolution.

The key point I make is that it marked the transition point from a world of activism based on an immediacy of offline relationsto the new social media based activism that we saw with Occupy in 2011. It was as if we had gone from Caliban to Ariel if we went with all the platform hype. But going through my archives in this pandemic time I am trying to reconcile the now with the then ten years ago. The 81 days of Democracy Village coincided almost perfectly with the London lockdown (+/- 1 month).

In my nomadic life, I have been involved over 2 years with voluntary PAR (Participatory Action Research) work in the East End; stranded the last few months the focus has been on how Covid-19 is affecting the community. But first we lost half the research team of 25 because they have no internet access with public libraries closed and can not afford the equipment. The researchers are based within community not academia; they reflect the material conditions of community life that even today lives without the internet in significant sections. The knowledge base on community relations they produce for the research is based on that; and that has been even more distorted or silenced. Covid-19 has really showed up the digital divide in low income families even in 21st century Europe. I would be very interested in connecting with researchers with parallel community experiences in other cities. What really concerns me is the question of activist agency in post Covid-19 'new normal' political practices in community and what future paradigms we project without making the mistakes of the past decade. How we recover the ground of our own lost materiality and autonomy to live more equitably with the 'virtual-industrial complex' in the coming years with an increasing austerity.

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