I’ve been hunting around for radical political magic. I ran into this pretty great book review by a druid, The Spells We Are Under, because it popped up somewhere under the site title “Healing Whiteness.”
[Van] Jones was astonished to find that the vast corporate structures against which he and many other progressives had been campaigning so hard— the WTO, the World Bank, and so on— were treated, by the people who run them, as mere tools to be used or tossed aside at will. The elite see themselves personally as the holders of power, and institutions as their means and modes of power. The activists outside the police barricades, by contrast, see the institutions themselves as the problem. The scene from “The Wizard of Oz” comes forcefully to mind; Dorothy and her friends try to figure out some way to deal with the terrifying apparition of Oz, the Great and Powerful, but never notice the little man behind the curtain.
Consider George Lakey’s fascinating account of the Otpor movement against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic… One of the tactics Otpor members used to halt police violence against them was to take photos of their wounded and make sure the family members, neighbors, and children of the police got to see them. This was a brilliant bit of magic. The individual human beings who made up that reified abstraction, “the police,” were stripped of that identity by a spell of unnaming, and turned back into neighbors, husbands, children, parents: people who were part of civil society, and subject to its standards and social pressures. That couldn’t have been achieved if Otpor had reified and protested “police brutality,” since that act would have strengthened the reification of police as something other than ordinary members of society.
I know this idea from non-magical people too. (“Those big, powerful corporations have offices and CEOs with addresses.”) But I like having a name for this shift in perspective, and I think I like having a name that triggers dork associations about hobbits and +5 strength against goblins.