Michael Neocosmos argues that there is a politics beyond the state and that, within this form of politics, lies the true and trustworthy alternative to the status quo. This ‘politics beyond the state’ is carried out by active citizens who think, and who engage themselves in politics as militants rather than as politicians. In Neocosmos’ words, citizenship, from an emancipatory perspective, “is not about subjects bearing rights conferred by the state, as in human rights discourse, but rather about people who think becoming agents through their engagement in politics as militants/activists and not politicians”.
The ‘politics’ which emerges from active citizenship is completely different from that of the state and the political parties. It is a politics which requires communal thinking, direct engagement, and new (different) style of leadership. It is a politics where everyone is important because every idea matters. By contrast, the politics of the state is a politics which requires only “opinions” concerning “ideas” thought by other people, intellectuals, NGO, churches and so on.
Several features of this concept of active citizenship which can be traced in the intellectual work and praxis of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM): Read the rest of this entry »