Revolution is rising up and merging into the everyday

We talk to Jay Jordan, an art activist, co-founder of direct action groups, cinematographer, and co-editor, about prefigurative politics, reclaiming the power of the people, how art and activism are battles for the imagination, and more.

Advaya: Let’s start with the ZAD. Having never been a part of that kind of space before, and having always been very intrigued with the idea of prefiguring a new world, could you to talk about what motivated you to join that space, what you did there, and what it felt like to be with that community, and in that space, at that time?

JJ: I trained as an artist, in fine art and theater. And I was always frustrated by the lack of political engagement in those worlds. I got involved in a direct action movement, and I began to understand what direct action was—and that this was in the 90s, in the UK—how you could put your body in the way of a machine, and stop it from destroying life. I began to see that you didn’t have to just do protests, and you didn’t have to just ask the elites, the governments to do things for you: you could do it yourself. For me that was a massive revelation.

At the time I was involved in a movement against road building in the UK—and it was very successful; it actually stopped 700 roads being built. The mode of action was, inspired by groups in the States at the time, to put your body in the front of the machine, and squat the land, build tree houses, etc. And at that point, I started to understand this idea of prefigurative politics, and I realised then too that I didn’t want to be in the art world and do performance anymore—this was the kind of performance I wanted to do. For me, really doing something directly rather than just talking about it or showing it or representing it, was so much more powerful.

And so from that moment onwards, I really became involved in movements that used prefigurative forms of politics, whether that was the anti-roads movement, or after that with Reclaim The Streets, where basically the idea was that the streets are the urban commons, which are privatized by the car, so we want to reclaim those streets for people and for neighborhoods, and what do we do?

We don’t go and ask politicians to stop cars in the cities: we take the streets, create an illegal dance party and show what a street can be like without machines and cars. So that’s prefigurative politics.

And also coming into that, the idea of fun—that actually changing the world… has to be fun. If you want it to be regenerative, there has to be pleasure in changing the world. If it’s boring, then we’re never going to get anywhere.

So that was the work that I was involved in in the 90s, and that led on to the alter-globalization movement, and then met Isa in 2004, and we set up the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. And that brought us to the ZAD but in a very long, drawn way. So the lab was based in London, and the idea was that we would bring artists and activists together, not to make shows, performances and exhibitions, about politics, but actually to design forms of direct action together with artists and activists: merging together the courage of actors and the creativity of artists, and seeing what came to emerge from that. We would do that in the context of climate justice movements.

Then we started to realise, that while we were doing, loving and being inspired by so many of our projects (and it was the same for those who were involved), the problem was that these were always event-based. We’d help organise or be at a climate camp, we’d then do a laboratory, we’d design, for example, shields to push through the police lines, working with artists and photographers to do these big shields with the faces of people affected by climate change. It would be amazing, and the climate camp would have a great success, and then we’d go home. And we’d be back to the flat and back to our jobs and back to reproducing capitalism in our everyday life.

Even though we’d have these little moments where suddenly you were not outside, but you were living despite—because you can never live outside.

We were, and are, living despite capitalism.

We realised that in the people that inspire us, people like Dada and Surrealism, people within the Western European avant garde, beginning of the 20th century, there was this holy trinity, between merging art, activism, and everyday life. And we were doing quite good with art and activism, but everyday life was missing. So we went on a trip to see it, went to 11 different what we call utopian communities around Europe. We visited workers who had occupied their factories in Serbia, we visited an anarchist school, we squatted farms, we went to a community of free love…

After that, we were so inspired by the people we met, we decided to leave the city and find our everyday life. We ended up setting up a collective an hour away from here, from the ZAD, and then in 2016, moved to the ZAD.

Why did we do that? Well, there’s a story, and this is quite interesting in terms of the idea of prefigurative politics. So we set up this collective with eight other people who we’d met through the climate justice movement, who were involved also in the ZAD at the time—which was this fight against an airport on 4000 acres of wetland.

For us, the dream of prefigurative politics has always been that you merge the yes and the no.

Because we can do all the collective, small scale wind turbines, community wind energy projects, all the urban gardening projects that we want. But if we don’t actually stop capitalism, the growth economy, fossil fuel burning, then actually those projects will be underwater. There’s just no point in doing them, if we don’t have the no as well. So we wanted to merge the yes and the no, merge the alternative and the prefigurative, and the resistance and the blocking, merge blocking the world and building new ones. Also something we learned from the hippie communities of the US was from how in the 70s, a lot of them stopped being activists, stopped being against the system, and just dropped out to create alternatives, and then they got eaten by the system, and actually Silicon Valley and surveillance capitalism has a direct line into the hippie communities.

So we ended up up moving to the ZAD, after we kept visiting it and seeing how here there was this merger of the yes and the no. The other place, the collective we’d set up, was just a farm, and a school for art and activism, and so on. But there wasn’t a fight. And we need to have those two in our lives, so we ended up here, at ZAD, but only in 2016. So I’m speaking to you from our home, which is one of the 40 collectives that is on the ZAD at the moment—which is 4000 acres of wetland and farmland and forest, that was planned to become an airport in 1965. So the long dream of the system was to destroy the life here and put an airport, which is another monoculture machine. It was to replace all the communities that lived here—the human, the more-than-human—with an airport that would look the same everywhere else. But even in the 70s, this long dream was already starting to be resisted by farmers. And it was a project that kept being put on and taken away, and it finally came back in 2000 as one of those “green” airports: it had green roofs, they were doing eco-compensation projects.

Then in 2008, a climate camp happened in France—it was the first climate camp happening in France organised by people who inspired by the climate camps we had been organising in the UK. At that climate camp, local residents read out a letter which said, to protect, to defend the territory, you need to inhabit it. They invited people to come and squat the empty farms, the forests, to stop the building of the airport. And so that’s what happened after the climate camp. It folded up its tents, and people stayed. And in 2012, just after we had moved to this farm an hour away, the French state decided to try and evict the zone. At the time, there weren’t many people living here, there were about maybe 40, 50 people living here, plus the local farmers who refused to sell their farms. The state came, with their riot police, as they always do in France and tried to evict zone.

What they met there was fierce resistance. Mud was very useful, because it was a wetlands. And all the machines were sinking into the mud, along with the riot cops. We knew our way through the mud much better than them. There was an incredible diversity of resistance: in one area you would have local villagers singing their songs to the lines of riot police, in another area there would be tractors blocking the road from the farmers. In another area there’d be naked people crawling through the forest, showing their vulnerability. There’d be people up in the trees, other people even burning barricades and Molotov cocktails: there was everything.

That diversity really was what worked: it was very difficult for the state to label us, because we were so diverse and changing. And we always said that we would come back: the movement said that if there was an eviction, a month later, they would come back and rebuild.

So you had this eviction happening, and a month later 40,000 people turned up to rebuild what had been destroyed by the police—which was 12 farms, in three days. And we were involved in that rebuilding: and we were like: this is incredible. This moment of 40,000 people rebuilding what had been destroyed. And so that was the moment where we decided that we were going to move the ZAD. It took a bit of time, but by 2016, we did it—we moved. There were about 70 different collectives, about 350 different people living here, and loads of different activities: three bakeries, you had cheese-making, blacksmithing, carpetering. It was really a material base, in a sense.

And what was extraordinary about the zone was that in 2012, when we rebuilt the hamlet, three days later, the police came back and tried to destroy it. And at that point, there was a huge fight, that lasted three days. And at the end of the third day, the doctors who’ve been working with us sent a letter to the president, because 300 people have been injured by tear gas grenades and explosive grenades and rubber bullets—I mean, the police are super violent. The doctors and nurses said that people will die if they didn’t stop the attack. And the President decided to stop the attack, and most of the troops left, but there were a few cops, gendarmes here for about six months, just a few being present, really. And then after six months, they left. And basically after May 2013, there was no police on the zone.

So we lived a life without the police, without governments, without the planning control: which meant we had to organise our entire lives. Basically, we could do what we as a community decided we wanted, or needed to do. And that was an extraordinary experience, which we would pay for later. But that was the situation then: no police, no government, nothing except for the forms of organisation that we wished to have. And it was fabulous, because it really merged this saying no to the world, and building new ones at the same time.

Advaya: First of all, thank you. What a riveting story! There must have also been such mixed feelings, immense joy, but also such difficulty, especially during the fights. But so, since then, you’ve moved there, and you still are there now. What is happening in the ZAD now?

JJ: So we moved here in 2016. And prior to that year there were many, many legal cases against the French government, from NGOs, and so on, against this airport and we tried and lost 178 laws. We tried laws about special species, about water. So in January 2016, the government said, “fine, you lost all the rules, so we’re going to build the airport.” This was when I really learned the difference between the ZAD movement against the airport, and the movements I’d been involved in against the motorways and the road building. Because in the latter, our strategy would be to do everything to make eviction as expensive as possible. We’d build these crazy barricades. But on the ZAD, the logic was different—it wasn’t “we’re going to do everything to make this eviction cost them a lot of money”.

It was “we’re going to make sure they never actually ever come, that they never try and evict us”. And that means building a movement that’s really wide, and really diverse.

And so in 2016 government says, we’re coming in October. The first warning to the government was that they’d face 20,000 people, 1000 bikes and 500 tractors. That we’d take the big bridge that crosses the river near the local town for which the airport is, and we’d build a banquet, blocking the bridge. We said that they couldn’t build the airport. The President refused, water cannons came in, cleared the bridge. A month later, 60,000 people take the motorways at exactly the point where we knew that they would start the work, where we knew the first bulldozer would go on. There were huge parties, big sound systems and bands on trucks. And then the government realised that this was not going be as easy as they thought. It wasn’t just a load of squatters, anarchist punks, and old people from the villages.

Then the government tried to put in a referendum, but the referendum was completely biased, and its intention was to try and break the movement. They thought that there would be this split between the legalist NGOs and the anarchists—but that didn’t work. As it turned out, the referendum result was 52%, for the airport. But of course they didn’t ask the whole of France (in which case it would have been no), nor did they ask people who are going to be affected by climate change in the Global South. After that referendum, they said that they were coming, and so we organised a ritual that was disguised as a demonstration. We asked 40,000 people to come with walking sticks and put the walking sticks in the ground, and make a pledge with a stick and say that they were going to come back and save this land if the government were to come. It was a really extraordinary moment, with 40,000 sticks put in the ground, almost looking like a hedgehog.

Then, we started and I can see it right out of my window now, to build a lighthouse exactly where they wanted to build the control tower. And as we rose the lighthouse, the French government actually said that they were not going to build the airport, that they were not going to evict the ZAD—and at the time this was the most asked question in Parliament. That was because the elections were coming up. So they passed the hot potato to Macron. And Macron came in the next day, and said that they would do a six months consultation, that they would will talk to economists, agroeconomists, cops, and airline pilots, and that they would see what they wanted. On the 17th of January, the Prime Minister came on TV and said that there wouldn’t be an airport, that the conditions aren’t right, but that all the “illegal” people who were on the land had to legalise, before spring, or that they would have to go.

So we wrote up a big document, and went into legal negotiations with the government, to show how we could run these lands as the commons (now that it wasn’t going to be an airport)—there was a document that activists and farmers had written in 2014 dictating the future of the ZAD without an airport, which we used as reference—having the land in common, having an assembly of communists to run it, having diversity, forms of life, and agriculture, and so on. Macron went on TV twice saying that they were not going do the commons. And so on the 18th of April, they came with a biggest police mobilization in the history of France since May ‘68: 4000 police drones, tanks, helicopters, and they fired 11,000 tear gas and explosive grenades at us in three days, and destroyed 40 of our cabins just like that, and then did a ceasefire, and said that we had to sign this form—no commons, and we had to legalise.

So there was a huge debate. And of the 70 collectives, 63 collectives signed the form, but we hacked the form to make it more like a commons—so for example, they wanted one field, one person, and instead we went for interrelationships between different groups. Seven collectives didn’t sign the form, and a couple of weeks later, they came back with their tanks and destroyed the seven collectives who hadn’t signed. So that was 2018. We’re now living through the trauma that that was, because it also caused huge splits within the movement, around legalisation, not legalisation. But about 170 people still live here, in about 40 different collectives, and the land is now legalised for 10 years, but the housing isn’t, so we’re still squatting the housing. And we’re still, in a way, fighting to turn this land into a commons.

Some people have said that it took 40 years fight and win against the airport, so maybe it will take 40 years to return this land back to the commons that we want it to be.

So that’s where we’re at, at the moment.

Advaya: There are so many interesting parts of that story that I want to pick up but there’s clearly not enough time for me to pick up all of it. But so what does it look like today? Are you continuing to have a lot of conversations with all the collectives? Does it look like adopting a diversity of strategies and approaches, and having each collective doing something different, or is there a broad strategy that everyone does together?

There’s never really been a broad strategy in that sense. It’s always been very decentralized, very complex and diverse.

There’s never been one way of doing anything, which in a way, has been our strength and our weakness.

So there are still people on the ZAD who are against the fact that we legalised. Not everyone is on the same page. Though we just did a big seminar where out of the 170 people there were about 60 people who came and spent three days talking about next strategies—so there are moments for doing that, in assemblies. There’s an assembly of the users every month, which is all the people who use the land and are part of the movement.

“Users” are not just people who live on the ZAD, and this has always been important for us. And I should have explained this earlier, but ZAD, initially in French, the acronym was “zone d’aménagement différé”, which means “deferred development area”, which also can be taken to mean “a place where a project will eventually take place”. And we changed that to ZAD, which is the same “ZAD” but we changed it to be “zone à défendre”, which means “zone to defend”. So yeah, the people who come to these assemblies, are not just people live here: it’s also people involved in the movement, people from local villages, from local towns who are involved, and so on. It’s all the people who have been involved in saving this land and using it. And the idea of the commons is also not just people living here.

A lot of the work at the moment is rebuilding. So every 17th of January, which is the day that the airport was cancelled, we have a big festival, normally involving a ritual as well. So I’m also working with four other people in a collective that’s called the “Cellule d’Actions Rituelles”, the Ritualistic Actions Cell, and every year, we’ve rebuilt one of the buildings that was destroyed in 2012, and we work a lot with traditional carpenters who live on the zone, and we have our own wood here, we have own forests, and we have a whole way of managing the forest sustainably, and we raise up a new building that will become a farm or a school, etc. There’s a lot of building going on at the moment, even though we don’t have actually planning permission for any of those buildings. It’s still a big negotiation with the government.

Advaya: This feels like a good place to pivot to talk about like The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. Is there a relationship between your work with the ZAD, and the Lab, or are they mostly separate?

JJ: Yes, and no, because, for example, building the lighthouse was an idea of the Lab, but we don’t label it as a Lab project, and we say it’s a collaboration between the Lab and the people there. But there also are Lab projects outside of the ZAD, and that are completely labelled as the Lab’s projects. Most of the stuff we do here, we don’t label as as the Lab, but obviously the influence is there.

Advaya: So it’s like a Venn diagram where there’s an intersection. So going back to the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, why did you both decide to call it that? And what is the significance of the phrase “insurrectionary imagination” to, and what that signifies for, you?

JJ: So Isa comes from a more pedagogical background, teaching radical pedagogy. Teaching has always been her thing, and merging that with activism. And for me, it’s about merging art and activism. So in a way we teaching, activism and art are three of the aspects we bring. And both of those involve the imagination, in a sense.

Both teaching to transform the world and activism in all senses, are battles for the imagination.

It’s a “laboratory”, and we call all our projects, not “projects”, but experiments. Because we think that everyone should have the right to fail. And for us the key aim is, how do we bring creativity into movements? Because movements can be so boring: we’re doing another march, we’re doing another leafleting, we’re doing another assembly, and we’re doing another blockade. So we had this sense that we needed new forms.

And in regards to “insurrectionary”… Everything we take for granted in Europe came from disobedience: the right for people who identify as women to wear trousers, the right to use contraception, the right to vote, the right to have a weekend, the right to work eight hours a day… All of this came because people disobeyed, and they went against the law of their time. So we wanted to create a laboratory which created new forms of disobedience, and pushed creativity (the prerequisites of which are being able to fail, and not fearing failure). And it’s “insurrectionary” also because we’re not really revolutionaries.

We don’t believe in overnight revolutions; we believe in an insurrectionary process, that of rising up and then merging that into everyday life.

Advaya: Let’s touch a little bit on what you said earlier, about how art and activism and teaching are all battles for the imagination. Could you expand on your thoughts about how living in, as you say, the capitalocene—which is a word that encapsulates so many things, though of course it’s not the most comprehensive—in these times, have very much limited our senses of imagination, and how art and activism push us on that front, and invite us to resist?

JJ: As Fredric Jameson [and Slavoj Žižek] say, “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism.” We rehack it and we go: “it’s easier to imagine the collapse of life on earth than to imagine new and better forms of living together”. I think that it’s pretty key to capitalism: this closing down, this limiting of the imagination, [this idea] that nothing else is possible. That we tried communism, and that only capitalism works. That without capitalism, we’d have poverty, we wouldn’t have joy—the world would collapse, in a sense. But actually the inverse is entirely true.

For us, the key is how do you create real experiences of people trying to live a post-capitalist life? Because it’s always despite. Here, I’m using the internet, I’m using a MacBook Pro… I’m absolutely in the web of capitalism. So there’s never this idea of completely leaving, because you can’t, and if you do, you’re unlikely to be in communication, or be able to actually share your imagination, with people. So we often say, how do you live despite the capitalist thing? And how do you try and create real experiences? Experiences change people way more than texts do.

You can read endless books about utopia, but unless you actually go and live and feel one and see it existing in a concrete way, you woudn’t really believe it possible.

And of course, these things aren’t models. We never saw the ZAD as a model [to be implemented in different cities]. It would not work [in other cities]. These things are very specific, and very contextual. I think they do work to open the imagination, in terms of potentiality: what is possible when you work together. Also, I think here we’re not an eco village, and we don’t want to be an eco-village that just shows an alternative. We want to be a movement that has yes, and the no.

We’ve shown, for six years, that you can live in terms of your own governing, in terms of not having the police. And that is a real no no in the capitalocene. David Graeber, economist, anthropologist, friend of ours, who sadly died last year, always used to say that governments don’t mind if you do strikes here, demonstrations there.

What they hate is when you show that you can actually live without them, that they’re actually quite ridiculous, that you can do absolutely well without them.

And that was the revenge of 2018 on the ZAD. The state came back and destroyed 40 of our cabins and so on, was partly to force us into legalisation, but also it was because we showed them that we can live without the state for six years.

It was also a revenge against victory. The other thing the capitalocene does is it hides our victories. It pushes us towards constant anxiety, making us think things are getting worse—and yes, things are getting worse, but we also have got to be able to look at history and at the victories that we’ve had. Within movements, we’re just not very good at celebrating our victories. It’s never enough—we always want more. And that’s the productivist growth economy of capitalism. We couldn’t even call the party that we had here to celebrate the end of the airport a victory party. Some activists went: there’s still patriarchy, there’s still capitalism… And it’s like, yes, we realise that, but we just fought against an airport for 40 years and won—surely we can call it a victory.

So there’s this idea within activist movements of wanting more, more, more, more, rather than actually saying, well, let’s tell some really good stories.

Good stories also change the world. And in fact, that’s how you change the world.

The story of the capitalocene was that there was going to be an airport here. And the movement’s text, which was called, “Because there won’t be an airport, these are the six points for the future of the land”. That was a very key thing, because it was not a poster that said no to the airport, it a poster, that went everywhere, and went, because there won’t be an airport—and that’s just like magic. You’re saying, there’s not going to be an airport, and that is kind of bending reality by creating another story, and actually making that story believable and desirable. Because the key is the capitalocene works because it’s always touching our desires, always managing to make us fantasise about another thing. As activists we have to learn from that, we have to learn how to make our projects as desirable.

Advaya: It’s interesting—we sat down with Ilaj and Jessica for these interviews, and it’s really interesting how all these conversations come back to this core of, if you want to have regenerative activism, you have to find a way to make our movements desirable and joyful. Which is not to say that we should deny the anger, injustice and the oppression, but if we limit ourselves to that, and not allow ourselves to feel joy, if we don’t allow ourselves moments of joy, victory and celebration… it’s self-punishment. And part of liberation is to lean into pleasure.

JJ: Absolutely. And I learned that through working with Reclaim The Streets. You would tell people that they were going to go and dance illegally, with thousands of others on a street without asking any permission, and that it would be an adventure. It worked. Bertold Brecht is a influence for us, the German playwright and dramaturg, and he always said the aim of his theater was to train people in the pleasure of transforming reality. It’s not pleasure all the time: you’re going to have to do really boring, non-joyful things. But we have to be able to find the joy in those moments of victory.

For people in movements who don’t find that joy, I think there’s this inability to have paradox, this desire for a certain purity. Because, if you analyse the realities of the world right now, it’s not very joyful. But you can also have a paradox in that. You can be able to see the disaster and the apocalypse, the absolute lack of liberation and the domination, and then at the same time be able to say that we can find joy even in fighting that.

We’ve often, in our work, been inspired by permaculture, to talk about the edges. How do you create an edge? In an ecosystem, the edge is where there is the most power, in a sense, because it’s where there’s more relationships between different species, such as the edge between the forest and the meadow, or between the sea and the land. So that’s where the engine of evolutionary imagination and experimentation happens. So we’ve often thought about how do you create edges?

And they are these non-binary spaces: the edge between art and activism, or the edge between joy and anger, or the edge between poetry and pragmatism.

For us, it’s how to balance on those edges all the time.

Advaya: Thank you for sharing that. Our last question is, and in some ways, you’ve already touched on it, but did you have any thoughts about the more difficult and contentious question about whether or not utopian spaces and prefigurative spaces are in fact, less accessible for folks who don’t have the privilege to do such direct action, or for folks who just don’t have the privilege to be in these kinds of spaces?

JJ: That’s a key question, and one that is dealt with differently in different cultures. In France, we have this real Republican concept of universality. The idea of difference in the community is still far from the French imagination, even in some of the left. Everyone is together the “same” in the Republic, which is complete bullshit. [Which is to say] even the acceptance that there is diversity is hard within French culture. That’s changing—thank goodness.

I can only speak for the ZAD. But I think the first thing to note is the importance of cultural resistance, [whereby] 99% of people are not physically, psychologically, economically able to be on the frontlines, to fight with the riot police, to block the roads. Most people can’t do that, for so many reasons. If you’re a person of colour, in France, and in most cultures and countries in Europe, and the US, you’re putting your body at way more risk than a white person… Most people aren’t prepared to do that. But those acts only exist because of a culture of resistance.

They only exist because you have hundreds and hundreds of other people who are cooking the meals, doing the childcare, doing the healing, doing the poetry, building up spaces, doing the legal work.

There used to be a banner in the ZAD that said, in French, which meant “no women on the barricades without men in the kitchen” [which stands against this] very patriarchal idea that real activism is on the frontline, and is about direct action. But actually, none of that exists without all the care work. So I think that can bring in much bigger diversity of people. And on the ZAD… it’s very white, without a doubt, partly because of many structural reasons, and because rural France is very white, but we’ve got maybe 10 exiles and migrants who live here, some from Sudan, from Syria… and it’s pretty diverse in terms of age, economic backgrounds, you’ve got people from working-class backgrounds, people from the street…

So there is a tendency in these movements to not be diverse. But I think it’s [partly] because the story of a culture of resistance isn’t told enough—people think you have to be on the frontline, but they don’t realise that the frontline only exists if there’s all this care behind it.

Advaya: Care work is such an essential part, and without it, everything would essentially fall apart—activism or not, that is the case. And definitely, contextually speaking, if a lot of people who live in rural France are white, you wouldn’t expect to have a ton of diversity, because who would move there if they don’t already live there? It doesn’t make sense to get people to uproot… Activism should be local to where you are.

JJ, we’d love for you to share any thoughts you have on what folks can do after listening to this, in relation to this conversation.

JJ: We could go back to joy. We’ve forgotten what it means to feel alive. The capitalocene is a deadening machine. That feeling of aliveness has joy at its center. So, one, we need to find forms of action that make us feel alive. There’s no point in organising, if [you don’t feel alive]. I have so many friends who work in big NGOs, and they spend their life on Zoom and Skype: you know that they don’t have community, they don’t have bodies, they’re just minds and computer screens, doing all this abstract organising, and they just feel so dead inside.

What enabled us here, too, was finding people; not doing it alone. And it goes without saying if it’s movement building, but we live in such individualistic cultures that often people will ask: well, what can I do? When the first thing is to find others hwo are asking you those questions.

I think what happened here is fighting for this land, and the human and more-than-humans on this land… We kind of fell in love with the place through that fight.

Even though I’m not from here, I fell in love with this place because I fought for it.

Every day, I’ll walk across the garden to the collective house or walk across the forest to go to the wood workshop, and I’ll go “wow, this place could have been an airport, this forest could have had the smell of kerosene and the sound of airplanes, but right now it’s got the smell of spring and the birds,” and that is extraordinary. It is so powerful to feel that strength, that connection with the place.

Especially in a culture of hypermobility, where we, Western Europeans, don’t have that relationship to place. I find myself just always moving around and floating above things, never really feeling attached to things. I think the key is how do we feel attached to our friends, and attached to place?

And that for us is our definition of freedom. Freedom is not freedom to be an atom that’s just fooling around, the kind of individualistic neoliberal freedom, but rather freedom because we’re linked to each other: because of my friend, because of food, because of the roof over my head… I’m free because I’m linked to these things, and without these things, I could not be free.

Find an attachment and refuse this detached floating culture of neoliberalism.

That was a rather shapeless answer.

Advaya: What a great place to end on—especially that part about freedom as being rooted with and to other people and places, which to a lot of people doesn’t feel intuitively like freedom, but that’s because that’s what we’ve been taught and told.


Jay Jordan

Jay Jordan is an art activist and author, cofounder of Reclaim the Streets and the Clandestine Insurgent Clown Army.

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