Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Critique Influence Change launch competition: 'Independent Media for Real Solidarity'

Mainstream media. When it's not staging dubious 'debates' chaired by Richard Bacon (Channel 4's Benefits Britain: The Live Debate), it's recommending that you holiday in fresh killing fields ('Catch it Now: Sri Lanka'). Perhaps at its worst, it keeps schtum altogether.

Here, in his submission to our Critique Influence Change launch competition, Joris Leverink argues that through independent publications (such as ROAR Magazine, the website that he edits) media that truly reflects the voices of dissent on the world's streets is essential to strengthening global political struggles and affecting change.

A demonstrator kisses a Turkish flag in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 2013. Crowds had gathered to celebrate the reversal of a fare hike on public transportation following a week of mass protests.
(AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

It was one of the most inspiring images arising from the arena of resistance in the summer of 2013: a Brazilian man in São Paulo surrounded by fellow protestors, passionately pressing his lips to a bright-red Turkish flag. It was a symbolic gesture, an act of solidarity, an expression of love and support. But most of all it was a clear sign of global connectivity.

A mere two weeks after the Turks had risen up in their millions in an unprecedented wave of popular resistance against the increasingly authoritarian rule of the country's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its radical urban development programmes inspired by neoliberal policies, the Brazilians took inspiration from their Turkish comrades and also took to the streets, shaking their country on its very foundations. As millions marched across the globe, the people on the streets realized something that their leaders and the corporate media did not: there existed a connection between the defiant Turks and the angry Brazilians. A connection that was forged in the fires of oppression, kindled in the smithies of global capitalism and which had finally come to light now that the flames which were fed by exorbitant profits, urban redevelopment schemes, marginalization of the socio-economic underclasses and increasing authoritarian rule by supposedly democratically elected leaders had started to flicker.

This idea of global connectivity has painstakingly been kept out of the reports of these individual protests produced by the corporate media. The last thing their elitist puppet masters want the general public to know is that it is not alone in its suffering, and that in fact there are billions of others out there, struggling on a daily basis, fighting against greater or lesser evils. Regardless of their specific manifestations, all these evils have their roots in the same oppressive, hierarchical, elite-centred and -controlled global financial system which is founded upon exploitation, virtual enslavement, numbing of the minds and the silencing of voices of dissent.

So what did make this man on the streets of São Paulo realize that he had something in common with the Turkish Çapulers? The answer is the power of independent citizen media. With the rise and spread of the internet, control over the flows of information has been taken out of the hands of the centralized global and national propaganda apparatuses and brought within the sphere of the public arena. Knowledge and information has become accessible to all who are willing to look for it. Slowly but surely this is undermining the power of centre, and report by report, video by video, photo by photo, this is bringing truth, knowledge and awareness to those who have been deprived of it for so long.

The members of the independent media collective ROAR Magazine have been at the front lines of this global wave of popular uprisings which has spread across the globe like wildfire ever since that young Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi made the desperate decision to set himself on fire in early 2011. Through first-hand reports, critical analyses, thorough research and revolutionary reflections ROAR has kept a global audience of tens of thousands of concerned and involved readers informed on the latest events in the context of the global revolution. ROAR tries not only to bring the latest news, but more importantly it attempts to reflect critically on these events while they are still going on. Informed reports relying on an extensive body of academic research as well as activists' experiences are written while the barricades are still burning, the streets are still covered in clouds of tear gas and the anti-establishment slogans still resonate across the squares.

2014 is going to be a crucial year. The alarm bells of the global financial markets are ringing once more as emerging markets like Argentina, Turkey, Thailand and Mexico are now starting to suffer from the economic crisis, which has simply been relocated from the centre to the so-called periphery. This global socio-economic and political crisis is by no means over and as the most recent events in Bosnia-Herzegovina bear witness, it is only a matter of time before yet another country implodes as a consequence of rising popular anger and civil frustration. ROAR Magazine intends to hold the line and aspires to keep reporting from the front lines of the global revolution. Moreover, in 2014 ROAR will build a brand new website in order to intensify its reporting and diversify its base of contributors. It has already received support from hundreds of funders, contributors, documentary makers, citizen journalists, established academics and seasoned activists across the globe and it intends to canalize this widespread support into the formation of a global collective whose combined efforts will serve the universal struggle for real democracy. As the global revolution enters its fourth year, so does ROAR. And by professionalizing its web-presence it sends a clear message to the top of the pyramid: just like the global revolt, we are here to stay and we will not back down until we got what we came for.

Joris Leverink
Editor, ROAR Magazine

Critique Influence Change brings together pivotal texts by notable academics and activists from Zed Books’ publishing of the last thirty-five years. Paradigm-changing when first published, these books have retained and often grown in their relevance.

To attend the Critique Influence Change launch event featuring leading heterodox economist Ha-Joon Changthe Guardian's Ellie Mae O’Hagan and Oxfam's Duncan Green, visit the Free Word Centre website.

And to explore titles in the series so far click on the covers below:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Should no be so self centered. Unrests here in BraSil are going on for at least 1 year now. Simpathy ok, not inspired thoufh. Reasons are diferent my brother!!