On Joy, Politics of Pleasure and Liberation

Keynote Address at Young European Greens Federation, Greens/EFA Group Feminist, Free and Equal Europe Campaign and Green Rave 01/03/2024

When I think about the legacy of joy and pleasure, I instantly think about organising, and community building. I think about people coming together from different walks of life, backgrounds, and things they’ve learned, and saying, “Hey, we know something is wrong in society. How can we fix it? How can we work together? We don’t know each other, but we know each other, but how can we create something that works for all of us?”

When I think about the legacy of joy and pleasure,  it’s not only pertinent in all movements, but it is and has always been the glue that kept our ancestors and the people before us going. Joy is the theory. It’s the framework. It’s the community. It’s resilience, it’s the people that remind you of who you are, what your policies are, what your framework is, so that when you even lose sight of that, the joy of those people, because they love you, because you love them, because the planet loves you, you’re like, okay, let’s go back to the centre. Let’s find ourselves again. 

In the current reality of the political and cultural social climate in the EU and worldwide. We will not survive, nor will we create the much-needed transformational impacts without the solid foundation of joy, care and pleasure in every movement of liberation and change starting from the liberation movement across the global majority. 

The feminist movement, the Afrofeminist eco-movement,  Wangari Maathai, every single one of them wouldn’t have survived without joy and pleasure at the centre of community building. The power of joy and pleasure should not be mistaken for momentary relief or instantaneous gratification. Joy is political and queer ethos is being rooted in community, in community with each other and to the elements and planets that hold us together when every capitalist heteropatriarchy, action and policy is aiming and constricting and shrinking the living force out of us because of who we are, how we show and for some of us where our ancestors come from. 

The power of joy and pleasure that is beyond just the self -individualised idea of capitalism is that we pause intentionally to allow and accept the necessity of our humanity, of our beingness and of our collective coordination that not only brings about sustainable, tangible frameworks and space for care for all involved but also gives us the capacity to remind each other of our holistic well -being and show up to care, create, dream, reshape and readjust what needs to be changed in our current exploitative and extractive society. 

We are building new paradigms of purpose, and politics, when we allow ourselves to root every aspect of our work, policies and vision, in joy and pleasurable outcomes for the collective. This we engage better, we connect authentically and we open ourselves to the possibility of a society that is joyful and committed and leads with the perfect synchronicity of our heart, mind and body. We are not trying to fit into a burning house.

When we lead with joy and pleasure, we are building new homes that respect our spiritual needs and those of our planet. We no longer waste the collective on a self-selected few while we sacrifice the many. We are now together honouring the differences, the interconnectedness, the blossoming of living and nonliving beings in our movement.

Our politics are guided by care, joy, and love for what we do and need. The foundation we move to move forward in a system that holds itself accountable to joy, pleasure, and success of all of its members by wanting a world where no one of us is the sacrifice and all are heroes in our paradigm of pleasure and joy. 

So if we want to build a new paradigm around incorporating our politics, I invite all of us to think about how to do this. We need to have an objective, but how can we make sure if you’re running for politics specifically that “my constituents are happy, thriving, and the people that trusted me” because as an elected person or even as someone who elects someone it’s because you trust them, and if they trust you this term and voted for you and allowed you to go there, that means your job is to make sure you keep that community together. 

And you don’t owe them pennies two days before the election, you owe them the entire period you’re there. The entire period they see you, you respond to them, you engage with them from the place of joy and place of pleasure, which means you love what you do, and we have people who have become plutocrats, technocrats, they don’t love what they do, they love the money it brings them, and they don’t love the planet so they destroy it, and they don’t think about the next generation, and they watch people die, they watch genocide happen, and they feel nothing.

What happened to that? People have lost the joy and the humanity that we are all supposed to share. I’m just going to end, when you focus on joy and pleasure, you also focus on connection, you focus on knowing that none of us are separate. When we experience this, it might not be personal, and I’m going to use the example of what’s happening in Gaza, none of us are okay, none of us. 

We’re all pretending we’re okay, walking around, but if you’re watching people die live on your phone and it’s been five months and nothing happened, psychologically you’re not okay, emotionally you’re not okay, socially you’re not okay, and that circle will continue to repeat itself for generations to come until somebody says we need to stop. And if we don’t stop then we’re going to repeat this. The next generation will come, and another genocide will happen, people experience genocide in Rwanda, and they’re watching this happen again.

People experienced genocide in Congo, they’re watching this happen again. I grew up in a dictatorship in West Africa, I watched this happen again. How long do we have to continue to destroy our connection with each other and our connection with humanity? I invite you as we leave this place, not to leave with pain, but to think about what I can change in my policies that not only bring me joy but bring my entire team joy, my constituents joy, and my friends.

I always like to end with something hopeful and joyful. Look at yourself, sitting, thinking, dreaming, aware of the possibility of joy in a circle of joy. So I invite you to get organised and mobilise with a focus on joy because this is the only way to defeat a well-funded, well-oiled, fascist, genocidal, catastrophic empire.

Distinguished Diva

Never miss a story: