The Collective Visioning Process
A short introduction to the (R)evolutionary Love
Collective Visioning Project (4 mins)
‘Revolution is love if it wants to be worthy of its name’
We are living in the midst of an unprecedented planetary emergency. By far the greatest challenge that humanity has faced in its brief history. And one of our own making. The ferocity with which human beings are consuming resources is literally destroying our web of life, constructed over billions of years, upon which all of us, human and non-human, depend for survival. And to make matters worse, our collective ability to co-imagine a rational and timely response to this threat is being undermined by the moment-to-moment siphoning and redirection of our attention through the processes of digital capitalism – with our thoughts, desires, and even our imaginations, all being limited and shaped by this algorithmic conditioning. But it is not the entanglement itself that imprisons us, for this is simply the way things are – the underlying condition of being human (or more-than-human). It is the seizure and control by the forces of capital – of the entangled systems and flows within which we continuously reproduce ourselves and society that we must confront. It is here where our freedom can be won or lost.
In the face of our current overlapping social and ecological crises, our initial (and entirely understandable) response might well be to flee, and to escape. But this collective visioning invites us to attempt the very opposite – to pause and take time to re-orient ourselves in relation to the multitude of other beings with whom we find ourselves entangled, and to start our political project from this basis. The experience of social movements over the last century confirms the pressing need for a framework of plurality within our current networks which avoid the dominations and hierarchies of previous structures, maintains our constituent diversity and yet allows for the construction of a cohesive collective identity.
Although often omitted by conventional political histories, there are many examples of activists who have revolutionised love to align with specific political and social ideals. It is here where the lines between the personal and the political blur, where we have seen glimpses of potentiality for love as a radically transformative revolutionary force. It is here where we might discover that love has always performed an intimate catalytic role within revolutionary politics.
This Collective Visioning Project positions (R)evolutionary Love* as a key concept for political theory and philosophy, and explores if it might play a central role in animating radical social transformation in the 21st century.
An ongoing process of collective visioning is taking place across South Africa, Mexico, Trouwunna (Tasmania, Australia), Ireland, UK, Syria, Uganda, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Turkey, USA, Italy and Jordan, and our participants include activists involved in environmental direct action groups, anti-capitalist/alter-globalisation activists, anarchist organising, indigenous rights activists, refugee solidarity work, feminist activists, and members of communities developing transformative economies, cooperatives, food sovereignty and permaculture projects.
Four distinct themes are being explored through this process:
Practice - Exploring experiences of - and ideas for - (r)evolutionary loving practices within activist groups, movements, and wider society...
Theory - Exploring ideas on how a political theory of (r)evolutionary love might animate radical social transformation in the 21st century....
Corruptions - Exploring how (corrupt) forms of love might be utilised as methods of domination, oppression or abuse, in social movements and in society...
Utopia - (Co)imagining how a society arrived at through - and maintained by - a (r)evolutionary love might manifest...
Our approach builds upon a method first used within the Global Occupy Movement as a tool for collaboration and collective action, involving a group process of co-imagining a vision that is long-term, expansive and solutions-driven, and developing strategy for prefiguring the world we collectively envision – a form of knowledge co-production which acts to reveal glimpses of a future world – and (most importantly) the seeds of liberation already existing right here in the present.
This Collective Visioning reframes utopia as a process – reclaiming imagination as a productive power in the pursuit of new knowledge and practice.
Join us in co-imagining a (r)evolutionary love for the 21st century:
By making contact to set up a 1:1 conversation or join a group collective visioning
Or by joining the conversation in the Collective Visioning Online Hub.
Matt York is a PhD researcher in the Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork, Ireland. Matt first became involved in anti-capitalist and ecological activism through Reclaim the Streets in the 1990's, and has remained engaged across various movements since. As a nurse and development practitioner he has worked on a range of primary healthcare programmes and community development projects in Africa and Europe. In 2002 he founded the Mandala Trust – a UK based organisation working in solidarity with communities at a grassroots level supporting children and young people living in vulnerable situations around the world. Matt's work in developing community transformative education projects using the Southern African philosophy of Ubuntu** led to his current interest in love as politically transformative.
* Revolutionary and evolutionary theories of social change have traditionally been considered as antinomic yet contingent parts of the slow march of progress, each leading to the other in a perpetual cycle of alternation. This project questions this perceived antinomy and proposes (r)evolution as an alternative model for radical social change. The collective visioning process has explored how social reproduction is firmly grounded in loving-caring relations, and how such relations therefore offer a stream of continuation from the old to the new – offering the potential to avert the usual post-revolutionary vacuum in which the counterrevolution occurs and free society is repeatedly stolen from us. There is now a growing tendency within contemporary libertarian left thinking to critique the notion of us ever arriving at a point of ‘revolutionary closure’, positing instead a long-term open-ended process of social change. And so from this perspective, as long argued by both anarchists and feminists, every-day life is no longer outside the political sphere but the very ground from which it springs – a (r)evolution of the here-and-now.
** The concept of Ubuntu is best expressed through the Nguini proverb ‘Umuntu ngu-umuntu ngobantu’ meaning ‘I am because we are’. This sense of collective solidarity characterises Ubuntu through love, caring, tolerance, respect, empathy, accountability and responsibility.