Monday, November 21, 2011

Intrinsic Complexity

As an International Studies major specializing in Global Health, you learn from day one the world is complex. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution and assuming there's a quick fix for socio-political problems is naive and damaging. Global politics of inequality and injustice are multi-facited and contain dozens of variables, rendering one-dimensional interventions futile. You can read the many theories out there; the miserable failure of Lesotho's Thaba-Tseka project, Ferguson's anti-politics machine theory, Appadurai's principle of capacity to aspire, and more...but they share a general concept: the world is complex and trying to turn situations into technical fixes instead of holistic prevention is ignorant and dangerous.

It's a fascinating time to be a university student. As I analyze these theories and look at global case studies, I find myself distracted by the incredibly relevant Occupy movements across our own country. Just three days ago, UC Davis students were pepper-sprayed when they peacefully protested police brutality at UC Berkeley. Ironic. I am particularly moved by the abuse as that was almost my campus, my friends are there right now protesting, and I've worked/studied there many times over the course of my academic career. I feel like it's a bit "my" school. Throughout the Occupy movement, protesters have been fiercely criticized for their lack of consensus; lack of a particular platform and/or solution has been seen as their greatest weakness. I believe, however, the great naivety and unawareness the general public has regarding the true issue. It's not that there's one thing wrong with the system, it's the system itself. It's true that the Occupy movement has a myriad of reasons, and if you ask five different protestors, you'll likely get five different reasons they're there. While they're often criticized for this, I think it exposes the inherent complexity and depth of the problem at hand. Our economy, social, and political systems are so interconnected and intricate, it's only logical that a collective protest will be multi-faceted.

And the protest illuminates and exposes new problems; most recently, the brutal response police and authorities are having to peaceful protestors. At UC Berkeley, students, reknown faculty, war veterans and even the elderly were maced, beaten, arrested and stun gunned. On Friday at UC Davis, students were pepper-sprayed and, when they tried to cover themselves, had pepper-spray forced in their eyes and throats. What is this? Police action at the UC campuses are totally uncalled for and, ironically, only unify protestors and incite further demonstrations.

My friends and colleagues are protesting again today at UC Davis. Thousands of them will assemble in over an hour to take a stand against police brutality against peaceful protestors and the unbelievable 81% tuition hike the chancellors are considering. College should not be a debt sentence and neither should it condemn or suppress students' right to a voice. I wish UCSD wasn't so conservative and frustratingly apathetic - there's not even a rally or vigil going on here to stand in solidarity. Those that do know or support, do so with a quiet shrug. I look at them with disbelief. Really?

Just as you can't fight for women's rights in India without also examining the caste, class, education, and socio-political factors creating a violent environment, so you can't look at the Occupy movement and say, "oh, they don't have a solid reason to be out there." It's complex. It's multi-faceted. Real change, holistic change, sustainable change takes lots of people. It takes lots of voices. It takes lots of reasons.

1 comment:

Enrique Soto said...

De todas las intervenciones y de todos los comentarios que he leído al respecto, este análisis tuyo es el más interesante, es el que va más al fondo del asunto. Creo que eres muy lúcida y valiente. Estoy orgulloso.