Making Manifestos

Outside the campus, people continue to die from the flu. The power often is out for many hours now. We have set up the solar array on the library building to charge batteries and the UPS for the forum servers. Though we can hold meetings now in the big auditorium, the forum is used to record decisions and rota changes that are too complex to keep on paper, so it is very important we save our batteries for this. We each have a bicycle generator to charge batteries for handsets and homesets in an emergency, but this also uses our food energy, and we strictly ration the remaining supplies. Food from outside is very expensive and risky to collect. Agriculture and botany students will grow crops in all green spaces on campus. We pull up many flower beds and ornamental grasses to make space for cabbage, potatoes and beans, add some earth from the sides of the lake, and even plant some weeds in the water that have many vitamins to eat and make the water more clean. When we filter the water for drinking, the sediment is used for a fertiliser. It is very clever, but it will be many months before we can eat what we now grow.

We did not yet announce to the press that the quarantine is finished, but of course many tell their friends and family and it is reported in Beijing Newsnets. Some plan to return to their families, even though they risk infection. Most of us wish to keep the campus as a safe haven, and continue the Quarantine Movement. There is a big debate in our meeting now: will we set up a quarantine area to allow others in and let them join us when we know they have no disease? Some are against allowing in others, as we cannot know if they use anti-virals and remain infectious, or if they will try to take over. We argue for many hours, but we know that others can use force to get in. At least if we set up a way for others to enter safely, we keep control of the campus.

We will have endless meetings and discussions, and then nominate those with the best ideas to make a manifesto for running the campus. There is a group of Party members we were afraid will want to bring in the authorities after the quarantine, but even they agree an election will be the best and quickest way to decide who is in charge now. They want all students to join the party so they may vote, and all candidates to work with the party. It is more practical than really political – a compromise to do what we will do anyway, but not antagonise the Party outside. Many of us are still very angry at how they treat us before the quarantine and we refuse to join the party, so this will cause conflict. So much has broken down outside, there is a large group within the Quarantine Movement saying it is time for a revolution, to overthrow the party – they do not decide yet whether it is a revolution for democracy or for communism or for something else. I think we made decisions more easily on the forum, with an open discussion, and although we argue a lot we can all say what we want to, and then take a poll to decide. I say this to Li, and she says I should make this my manifesto. I laugh, really laugh for the first time in five weeks, until I am crying. I already moderate three forums, design the memorial garden, organise the cooking rota, write many press releases and answer hundreds of e-mails every week, as well as all the security, food, water and cleaning duty I have on the rota. Where will I find time to be a leader? I am too busy running this place!

So this is my meme for April: What is your manifesto for living in a time of disaster? How should your government respond to a Blood Flu outbreak? If you are in charge, what will you do? Or if you do not want to be in charge, then what is the manifesto you will trust? Who will you vote for?

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19 thoughts on “Making Manifestos

    • We already can vote. It is complicated, but everybody can vote for local government if they want. The lower level People’s Congress elect the higher up people’s congress, but really nobody gets to power except if the higher up congress allows it.

            • Come on, it’s not the same. Just cause we vote in assholes, doesn’t mean we’re not a democracy. At least we get the assholes we want, and a corrupt elite doesn’t step in and say who can and can’t stand.

                • That’s why you need independent businesses to be free to fund campaigns! We’re going back to that argument we had at the camp. Sure, it can go wrong, but it’s not the same as the corruption in China. Don’t know how it is an Australia, but here just about anybody can stand locally.

                  • It is the same here – locally, there is less corruption now more ordinary people are party members. But higher up, there is more corruption and nothing most people can do to challenge it, and the higher up power can override the local power, so it is all just marks on a paper. Is it so different in America?

  1. So this is how it works here. Mostly everybody who wants to oppose a policy joins a faction inside the Party to try to make a change. It is not very different from a small party in the West who never will have power itself but can influence the bigger party when it has support. Most people can join the Party now. There is more democracy than maybe ten years ago, but perhaps not enough, still.

    • While here, there’s less and less. You should see the forms you have to fill in and the agreements you have to sign to register a community group, let alone ask for funding.

        • Nothing so concise: “Include a copy of the proposed agenda for your initial meeting and describe, with examples, how discussion will be led for each motion, and the expected/desired outcomes of these discussions.” And if they can detect a whiff of politics on any of your answers, it’ll be a dozen more forms and get a party to sponsor you or you’ll be on the list of illegal unaffiliated political organisations.

    • I think I give my vote to Zhen, the one I write about who spoke at the meetings before the quarantine. He does not tell anybody what to do, he just says the way things are, and what will happen if we do one thing or another thing. Though he sounds shy, and people laugh at his accent, he was right about everything that happens from the first protest to now.

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