BIO’s “PAOPA” MUST DITCH THE “ANIMAL FARM” MENTALITY
“Paopa!” try less fighting and speaking and doing to get “your” way—and a lot more sitting, listening, questioning, and being still.
What can the resistance against ‘Paopa’s” greed learn from George Orwell’s allegorical novel “Animal Farm”?
As many of us work to resist the largest inequality gap created by the current Beo-led government in Sierra Leone, we often get caught up in the question of whether “we” will “win.” Then I wonder whether the oppositional thinking of “us” and “them” and “winner” and “loser” and “our side” and “their side” and “99 per cent” and “1 per cent” can lead to transformational and lasting change. I think, in particular, of George Orwell’s allegorical novel Animal Farm, especially with the current Beo administration behaviour.
The quick plot
The pigs on the farm lead an animal revolution against the oppressive humans. A central tenet of the revolution is that “all animals are equal.” But after the farmers are killed, the pigs move into the farmhouse—the place of the privileged—and even begin to walk upright on two legs. Ultimately, they rule as maliciously as the humans did. When questioned about the tenet that all animals are equal, they reply, “Yes, but some animals are more equal than others.”
This is exactly how Beo’s government is currently treating the suffering majority in Sierra Leone.
In what I will call a masculine-principled revolution, the uprising to remove the previous despotic government of Ernest Bai Koroma under the All People’s Congress itself served as much to consolidate power in a new SLPP “‘Paopa” ruler as to democratically oust the incumbent APC and their handpicked presidential aspirant. With an understanding that the hierarchy of oppression changes under the new ruler as a reward for supporting that consolidation of power. The selected few groups that supported the new SLPP ruler were granted new privileges with no effective checks and balances, and the group that was backbit by the selected few sycophants surrounding the seat of power and the suffering majority had privileges taken away.
Oftentimes, the rulers of the revolution end up concentrating more on maintaining the part of the power than the part of the suffering majority. Privilege is reassigned according to what maintains their personal interests. The foot soldiers in the revolution must content themselves with slight changes in their currency.
Here’s what that looks like under the current Beo-led government: The “resistance” reacts to Beo, whose supporters reacted to Ernest Bai Koroma, and on. The Orwellian animals become the humans, who become the animals, and so on. Meanwhile, the truly oppressed remain that way (this is the shadow truth of our binary choice system), and not much changes as we get distracted by the overly masculine-assertive desire for control.
Moving away from “us versus them” opens up the possibility of what I call “Only Us.”
The oppressed of each “side” is rewarded just enough to convince them to support the leadership without actually taking part in that leadership. Thus, the pendulum swings back and forth.
Masculine-assertive energy is not good or bad, but rather adaptive or not, according to the circumstances. Too much reinforces the regime of extracting resources, and while it might have once advanced society, it is now killing us and our habitat. So there is an argument to be made that using masculine-assertive energy to fight masculine-assertive energy by the current Beo administration reinforces the pendulum swinging.
The choice becomes either being content to have the pendulum swing “our” way for a time or working toward an end to all that swinging.
Moving away from “us versus them” opens up the possibility of what I call “Only Us”—an all-inclusive state of being for all sentient and non-sentient existence.
To move toward Only Us may require a massive move toward feminine-receptive energy. What does that look like? Less fighting and speaking and doing for our way and a lot more sitting, listening, questioning, and being still. Mobilising includes listening—especially to the oppressed of the “other side”—and receiving what is offered as opposed to taking what is not. The so-called talking and doing system of the Beo administration is now well understood by what we keep on learning day in and day out.
Are there models for the feminine-receptive approach? Yes.
Mobilising includes listening.
My own life story has brought me deep familiarity with 12-step recovery programmes. One of the things that I have most admired about these groups of people is their tradition of all-inclusive governance. Their second tradition goes something like this: There is but one ultimate authority—loving wisdom as it expresses itself in our group conscience. Leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
The amazingness is this: Workable and effective self-governance by some of the most downtrodden and disempowered people in our society—those trying to manage addictions. The will of so-called recovered or expert leaders are not imposed on the groups; they are required to fulfil the will of the group. Further, the will of the group is not that of the majority but of the consciences of the individual members and factions synthesised into one—ideally—unanimous group conscience.
The process is feminine-receptive principled in that it is about listening to one another and attempting to synthesise individual views into one community view. When a decision has been made that the entire group supports, there is no tyranny of the majority. There will be no need to overturn the group decision when a new majority takes power. Of course, this process is predicated on a faith in another recovery movement tradition—that “our common welfare comes first” because personal well-being depends on the well-being of the whole. Not us and them —but Only Us.
Let’s also consider the work of Elango Rangaswamy, the former mayor of the village of Kuthambakkam in India.
Rangaswamy pioneered a form of direct democracy by listening to his villagers, writing plans based on their views, and returning the plan to the villagers to discuss and rewrite in a circular process of receptiveness and assertiveness that refined itself to reflect the needs of all villagers. Again, no tyranny of the majority or the Executive Arm and a balance of masculine assertiveness with feminine receptiveness.
Rangaswamy then went on to train hundreds of village mayors throughout India in his methods.
The recovery movement and Rangaswamy’s self-governance models require a fundamental understanding that there is no use moving the fascist humans out of the farmhouse only to move in the equally power-hungry pigs. The models also require faith that the pendulum swing that comes with a masculine-energy revolution is not the best we can do, that “us versus them” degrades both “us” and “them.”
A model of receptivity by all rather than assertiveness by some can be used to create an Only Us that stops the pendulum and allows a longer-lasting highest good for the highest number. A question for those of us who are working to stop the current greed in the Beo-led administration for the general good is this: How do we use the feminine-receptive principle to create a dialogue with the oppressed of the “other side” and then move forward together?