rn: Politics for our times (Excerpts from Starhawk)


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

Another book I picked up on this trip is Starhawk's _Dreaming the Dark_.
I've only just started it but what I have read so far is very pertinent to
our struggle for a livable world.

Here are some excerpts: 

"This is a book about bringing together the spiritual and the political. Or
rather, it is a work that attempts to move in the space where that split
does not exist, where the stories of duality that our culutre tells us no
longer bind us to repeat the same old plots.

...This book is about the calling forth of power, a power based on a
principle very different from power-over, from domination. For power-over
is, ultimately, the power of the gun and the bomb, the power of annihilation
that backs up all the institutions of domination.

Yet the power we sense in a seed, in the growth of a child, the power we
feel in writing, weaving, working, creating, making choices, has nothing to
do with threats of annihilation. It has more to do with the root meaning of
the word power, from the (late popular) Latin PODERE ("to be able"). It is
the power that comes from within.

...the power-from-within is the power of the low, the dark, that earth; that
power that arises from our blood, and our lives and our passionate desire
for each other's living flesh. And the political issues of our time are also
issues of spirit, conflicts between paradigms or underlying principles. If
we are to survive the question becomes: how do we overthrow, not those
presently in power, but the principle of power-over? How do we shape a
society based on the principle of power-from-within?"

Jan again: 
Interestingly, parts of the book have been translated into Russian and
circulated as part of an anthology on nonviolence that was influential in
the movement which caused the fall of the Soviet Union... There has been
some change of leadership (in Russia), but not effective enough change in
underlying principles. David Brower (author of _Let the Mountains Speak, Let
the Rivers Run_ once quipped to Mikhail Gorbachev, "We're watching Russia
very closely, and if you can make Democracy work, we're gonna try it."  He
[Gorbatchev] laughed, and most people do, but isn't is sad that it's funny?
We don't have Democracy in this country. What we have is legal bribery,
where politicians must raise so much money to get elected that by the time
they do, they're bought and paid for by the companies and wealthy
individuals who financed their campaigns." (p. 199)

NOTE: Starhawk's analysis of power fits in very well with that of another
favourite author, Len Desroches. Starhawk, who is a Witch (who recognizes
that she shares political perspectives with people who could be Quakers,
Buddhists, radical Catholics or atheists as well as Witches) is describing
(above) something that Desroches (activist & radical Catholic) described
using the words "dumanis" and "exousia". I therefore also recommend: _Allow
the Water: anger, fear, power, work, sexuality, community - and the
spirituality and practice of non-violence_ by Leonard Desroches. In Canada,
at least, it is available in several bookstores or order directly from the
publisher, DUNAMIS, 407 Bleeker St., Toronto, ON, M4X 1W2. (416) 975-4897.

P.S. Richard and I have, periodically, suggested that pertinent book reviews
would be a welcome addition to our list. Perhaps some of you have been
reading books which others on this list would want to know about? If so, let
us know!