SOME NOTES FROM THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT FILM SERIES
WNFS Films :
Fourth World War
This Is What Democracy Looks Like
WTO: A Threat to Humanity
Mickey Mouse Monopoly
Hope in Hard Times
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It is important to distinguish between the structural factors of a corporation and the actions/impacts of actions taken by individual corporations…
What did we learn from THE CORPORATION?
What are the relationships (explicit or not) between corporations and government?
How can corporate power influence government?
What implications do these relationships have for different members of society?
Money is power.
How do individuals compete with the aggressive marketing campaigns of large corporations, who have huge amounts of capital behind them? How do we resist and critically analyze the facts behind the marketing hype? How can we raise our children to be critical consumers and thinkers in this context of mass marketing? What is ethical/not ethical? Who decides? What is being marketed-goods, but also values? -services, but also worldviews?
Who is controlling the media? Is media a vehicle for marketing ideologies? Whose ideologies are being marketed? What alternative sources of information do we have access to? How powerful is the media in shaping our values? -our understanding of the world? To what extent can we control what we are/are not exposed to? –what about our children?) What space is there to reject/re-shape our relationship to the media How can we resist the powerful effects of the media? How is media related to perception management? To corporate power? Marketing? Education? Perpetuation of mainstream values?
What is education? Who is doing the educating, and who is being educated? Are education systems a reflection of values re: hierarchy, power, money? How do we perceive education?
-Is education a ‘way out’ for people living in poverty?
-Is education a membership card into the mainstream economic and social system?
-Is education a way to change the system by engaging it from within?
Why is so much value placed on institutionalized education? Is it time to re-conceptualize what we mean by education, andwhat skills we want to develop through education? How we can create/allow space for these skills to be developed?
What is happening within our education systems today? (HK, China?) Are students learning/encouraged to think critically? Are they questioning what they are being taught/told? Or are they just being trained to fill a role in society, to perpetuate the economic and social world orders that exist? Are we educating a new generation of obedient consumers? What are some of the implications of this?
How can education be used as a vehicle for action (long-term)~for developing critical thinking as a means of resistance, for raising awareness and sharing ideas for alternative ways of organizing? For disseminating alternative information?
THE MANY SIDES OF RESISTANCE
What can we do as individuals in society to respond to the ‘threats” of WTO? How can we organize and mobilize to create a critical response that has impact? (Short-term/long-term; re-direct/resist)How do we engage with ourselves in a process of education/awareness? How do we engage others and create spaces for engagement without simultaneously creating hierarchy (conscientização by the people, for the people, as put forth by Paulo Freire)? Where do we seek sources of information? What sources of information are accessible to us? What communication strategies can we employ to share information within the system? What strategies can we employ to communicate outside the system? ~with the mainstream? ~with governing bodies?
There is no ‘one enemy’ out there. Each individual, each community has its own ‘enemy’, its own stuggles/challenges. Can we think in terms of localized struggles against common themes e.g. globalization? How can we share experiences with other struggles in other parts of the world…what do we mean by solidarity? e.g. Zapatista movement ®what can we learn from the Zapatistas? How did the Zapatistas create alternative systems in the face of government oppression? How were the new systems managed and adapted over time to meet emerging needs? What communication strategies did they use? How did they engage in self-education? Self-governance? What can we learn from their experiences, and how can we use this knowledge to further our own cause here in HK?
We need to be aware of the different sides of mobilization~ who is mobilizing, and/or who is being mobilized? Where is the power? Who is making decisions? Whose goals/agenda are being met? When actions are issue-based, the “public” can be exploited to showcase an “issue” or “platform” by individuals or groups with voice/power. People can exercise their own voice/power by bringing out their localized issues/struggles when participating in actions/rallies. Together, the diversity of issues raised speak for the people, and are an expression of solidarity towards each other as well as non-participating groups engaged in similar struggles.
What can we as individuals do in our own lives to reject the principles of WTO and neo-liberalisation? What lifestyle choices, consumer choices, actions, etc., can we make? Where is the balance? This balance may be personal, but may have far-reaching implications for society. Where are the compromises and how do we prioritize the different values that inform our choices. Do our values differ when we consider them from different perspectives (on a personal level, or a societal level)? Do we choose for example, to buy local, to buy organic, to boycott buying from big corporations? Where is the balance? How effective are these actions? On what scales can we evaluate the effectiveness of actions? How is this balancing act played out across time scales/generations ~in the education of our children; caring for our parents, as we represent them as consumers? Do our decisions/actions affect the values of our children? What actions stem from these learned values? How do these actions affect change in the future, directly or indirectly? ~through market demand? ~through direct actions? ~through education?
What actions can we engage in? What are the objectives of an action? What and to whom are we trying to communicate? What time scale does an objective operate on? (e.g.short-term~block a road leading to a WTO meeting; long-term~re-thinking communication strategy to engage government) Objectives can simultaneously operate on many different time scales. What physical scale does an objective operate on? (personal, local, global) What are the cultural context considerations that need to be taken into account? How do we find a balance to address the need for actions on different physical and time scales? How do we coordinate actions between people & groups operating on different physical and time scales? Do we need to coordinate, or should this happen spontaneously? Who makes decisions?
What motivates an action? How do the different forms of motivation affect an action? What do different individuals/groups taking part in the action stand to lose? Is the action born of fear or despair? Hope? Is it important to understand the differing motivations within a group collaborating on an action? Is the action even a collaboration, or a spontaneous event? Or a complex combination of both?
What are some of the consequences of an action? Was the action effective? On what time scale? On what physical scale? What are the criteria for evaluation? Who decides on the criteria for evaluation? Is there opportunity for critical reflection on an action? What are some unintended consequences? Can they be considered positive/negative? Should we move away from dichotomies of positive/negative? How is an action portrayed by different media? Can we cooperate with the media to use it as a vehicle for achieving an objective? Can the media be trusted? How much effort can we put into perception management?
How can we reflect on the consequences of an action? How was it portrayed and perceived? What are some of the repercussions? Do activists “box” themselves, or are they “being boxed” into a convenient perception category of “troublemaking leftists” through direct actions? Who is responsible for this? The media? An uncritical public? Activists? Should this possible outcome be a factor in deciding whether or not to engage in direct action? Are rallies and protests becoming too “predictable/obedient” to be effective? Are rallies and protests becoming too “radical/violent” to be effective? What are some possible consequences, if no direct action is taken? Is it more dangerous to be passive? Why? Where is the balance when the costs and benefits of action/no action are weighed out? Who decides?
What other forms of resistance can be exercised? Is action getting too much attention relative to other forms of resistance? What objectives can rallies/protests/civil disobedience achieve? Under what circumstances?What strategies can be employed to increase the effectiveness of an action? What is appropriate for an individual, in their context? Each individual makes their own decision regarding what is appropriate from them…
Important Point!! Its dangerous to generalize!! About “the activists”, or “the Hong Kong people”! …Although generalizations can lead into questions of what is cultural identity? For example, ~What do many Hong Kongers identify with as part of their cultural identity? And the summary below uses this generalization…(!)
CONNECTIONS TO HONG KONG
How are struggles in other parts of the world related to the Hong Kong experience? How do we make the connections? To what degree is the facilitator/individual responsible for drawing these connections? Many Hong Kongers relate international trade with better livelihoods for themselves and their families (trade = better business = healthy economy = higher standard of living) How do we identify/reveal/expose some of the negative aspects of the WTO, in ways that people in HK can relate to? What do we want to show? Human/social costs? Environmental costs? Economic costs?
What values do the WTO’s structure and current operation reflect? How is power structured, and who makes decisions? What room is there for input? Feedback? Sharing? Discussion? Access to information? Do these values match those of the people whose lives are inextricably linked to the national economy and therefore the WTO? What implications does the WTO have for democracy? ~human rights?
What can we learn from other people’s experiences, approaches, struggles, and how do we translate this knowledge and make it appropriate to our/the Hong Kong context? Is globalization not a global issue? We may be residents of citizens of a country, but are we not also members of global society? What responsibilities do we have/feel we have to ensure the rights all people? What do we understand solidarity to mean? How can we make our voices heard, so that our values are reflected in the policies that affect our lives?
E.g.’s discussed: HK privatization of postal services, housing management, re-location of garment factories to China®who bears the benefits and who bears the cost?
Can we think of WTO as being modeled on Hong Kong?? Hong Kong to many people is the very essence of trade- its economy isa perfect platform to showcase the possibilities of a free market? If WTO is modeled on Hong Kong, what does this say about other places, whose markets are less developed? What does this say about Hong Kong as a site of resistance?
AGENTS OF CHANGE
Who is leading the move towards greater and greater concentration of wealth and power? Is the system structured/designed in such a way to perpetuate this direction towards monopolization of power (e.g.World Bank, WTO)? Does there need to be a leader, or just compliance and/or passivity to keep us going down this track?
Who is leading the resistance? It is probably overly simplistic to say “the resistance”… Do we want to have leaders, or can we break down these hierarchies? What alternative organizational structures are possible? What decision-making methods can be employed? How can power be equitably distributed and shared? How can participation in decision making be encouraged? E.g. what can we learn from the Zapatista Caracoles model of community decision-making power?