Peoples' movements and protests




We need institutions



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By Jan Wiklund



"ABF is nothing without people doing things. But despite this, ABF 'exists' even at night, when no one is doing anything. It exists in our heads, as an expectation. It is an institution. Humans are unique in that we can create institutions that exist in our collective consciousness and guide our actions."

This is how historian Arne Jarrick explained what separates us from the other animals at the Global History seminar at ABF in November 2011.

Unfortunately, it seems that this ability is becoming increasingly monopolised. Whereas a hundred years ago ordinary foot soldiers were able to create institutions such as trade unions, consumer associations, tenants' associations - and the ABF - today we seem unable to do much more than adapt to the institutions of the state and capital and otherwise create ephemeral "networks" that disappear as soon as the actions that support them have died out.

Here I disregard socalled NGOs – institutions economically dependent on the counterparts of those it says it works for, or on charity.

One might ask why this is so.

Is it because the institutions of the state and of capital are now so numerous and so comprehensive that, in their authoritarian, controlling and divisive way, they cover most of our needs? Is it because the institutions our ancestors created also became authoritarian, controlling and divisive, and we therefore became disgusted with the whole affair?

In any case, it is destructive. It leaves the state and capital alone to exploit our collective consciousness and control our actions in the long term.

Published by Folkrörelsestudiegruppen: