Jonathan Brun

<!–:en–>Comment se revolter avec Jacques-Alain Miller au Quai Branly<!–:–>

Last week, I went to a conference at the mus√©e du Quai Branly featuring Jacques-Alain Miller on the theme “Comment se revolter?” (How to revolt?). His main thesis was that people revolt when their patience is pushed too far, when they have had enough. But beyond your patience, true revolt requires dedication of self against something exterior. Jacque-Alain goes on to claim that all revolts must start at the individual, not the group level. A conscious decision must be taken on the part of the self to change and sacrifice for a cause. Fundamentally, an agent of change must give something up to revolt and a true revolt requires you to be prepared for the ultimate sacrifice.

Of course you can revolt against an issue without living a completely ascetic life, but the question remains how much is enough? Many of my friends work for NGOs or other charitable organisations, but still live a very good life and consume many of the things that underly the very problem they are trying to combat. The stereotypical example is Al Gore’s energy bills and flights which completely contradict his message of sustainability.

My friends who complain that China is a polluter or that they abuse workers turn around and brag about their newly acquired 2 dollar t-shirt. Really? The problem is not so much the contradiction and confused message you send, it is that if you cannot even hold the line of your revolt, how can you incite others to follow? How pure can your fight be if you are contaminated with the very thing you wish to change.

If you want to truly revolt against an issue, the first thing you must do is become the change you want to see. Until then, your revolt is doomed to fail.

As the mahatma said, “We must become the change we want to see.” But before you change anything, you must change.

Published on April 12, 2010