I got going with this blog because I felt overwhelmed by the sheer weight of evidence of domination coming at me. Being sensitized, some might say over-sensitized, to this comes from paying a lot of attention to the power of love and trying to live from love, and today I want to start a new section that makes a place on the blog for this. I'm going to call it Satyagraha. Gandhi argued that an essential accompaniment to the non-violent direct action which accelerated the exit of the British from India was the development of 'positive programms'. He called these Satyagraha and I've adopted it here for organisations, groupings, actions events that demonstrate living from love.
If you want to have more detail on the origins of Satygraha Jonathan Schell in his highly recommendable book 'The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People' gives a lot of space to it and Gandhi.
That a positive programme is an essential ingredient of resistance and critique isn't a new idea for me. Left-wing analysis of social ills often seems to me very one-sided in the direction of too much intellect and not enough positive programme. Too much god (Marx/Freud) and not enough love.
Also, paying as much attention to creating what we want to have as to the critiques that come so easily to our dissociated lips really matters. Why? Because sustained critique can have the unintended effect of unconsciously replicating in us the style or dynamic of the oppression or injustice we are busy resisting or contradicting.
Resist and confront domination yes, but also create, devise, test, build, institutions that not only avoid reproducing domination, but are shaped by love and living from liking. As and when I find them, the Satyagraha section here will point to examples of this. Here's one.
I want to celebrate a film about the pyschology of birth which comprehensively provides pointers to what is adrift in our medicalized approaches to child-bearing and child-care, and what to do about it. 'The Psychology of Birth: Invitation to Intimacy', a 53 minute documentary currently released on DVD and VHS, outlines an approach that emphasizes 'welcoming' the coming child into a community of carers and 'sharers'(as one of the contributors, Sobonfu Somé elsewhere argues, one parent is not enough, one parent can't handle all those demands); the film invites us to accept the scientific evidence for intelligence and sentience in the foetus and newborn child and to have this re-shape the birth process; parents-to-be are invited to diligently attend to any unfinished business they might be carrying around with them that might prove to be an unwelcome gift for their child.
My oldest son Elmer, wrote, directed, produced and edited 'Invitation to Intimacy'. It's an eloquent, richly touching recipe for recuperating how we do pregnancy, birth and child-care. It will set a standard for some time on how to speak about why birth matters.
Other items to come in Satyagraha include: how to start a Steiner school, and a piece about the Independent Practitioner's Network [IPN], ten years old this November. IPN has developed an entirely new form of accountability for psychopractioners based on peer assessment and non hierarchical organization.