Cypriot consciousness and online spaces: can we dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools?

Cypriot consciousness and online spaces: can we dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools?

ESSAY

Audre Lorde once professed that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. Indeed, as an abolitionist, I believe that the state and all its wings of carceral violence (prisons, immigration detention centres, policing) must be dismantled for liberation to be possible. Funds, resources and energy must be funnelled away from these oppressive institutions, and instead be diverted into the creation of non-hierarchical community structures of accountability and transformative justice. Put simply, legal and policy reform is a tool of the state, and since the modern state as we know it is a creation of imperialism and colonialism, reform thus becomes a tool of colonialism and its structures of racial capitalism. In other words, reform can never lead to liberation. 

With my Cypriotist consciousness still relatively nascent, I often think about how it was that I came to be radicalised with respect to my identity.

I have come to realise that this was in large part due to the wonderful people I have met on Instagram, in the realm of Cypriot leftist activism. Cypriot leftist activism is a living, breathing archive. It is the making of history. Every day, I witness its new concepts, thoughts, theories, and I watch it unfold in real time through my phone screen. It is deeply influenced by the anarchist, communist and decolonial movements of the Global South, and builds upon already existing theorisations through novel contextual applications, but also through original, unprecedented theoretical interventions.  

As a massive social networking platform, Instagram, like all social media, is an oppressive tool of capitalism, of the state: the arms of the state use media to legitimise their violence (think about how the EU’s Frontex, Israel’s IOF and the UK’s Met Police advertise themselves), whilst corporations are able to use social-media branding as a way to divert attention from their heinous treatment of migrant workers. 

Yet social media was where I became radicalised. This leads me to wonder whether or not the tools of the state, of capital, can be repurposed, queered, and hijacked in service of liberatory ideals. 

Firstly we have to understand what it means to queer. What does queering social media look like? Queerness is something that extends far beyond the realm of gender and sexuality, and is encompassing of all marginal orientations that are resistive to hegemonic power, oppression and control. 

Within the landscape of Cypriot political consciousness, right-wing mainstream narratives (professing that Cyprus is either Greek or Turkish) are at war with each other. Yet these two clashing ideological positions are in fact two sides of the same coin: they both derive from British colonial policies, attitudes and ideas that sought to untether us from our Cypriot indigeneity, and fragment our sense of communal Self. 

Tools of the state exist to further the legitimacy of the state. Therefore, to queer social media involves appropriating these tools for a purpose antithetical to that which was intended: to hijack them in such a way that they can be weaponised in the service of denaturalisation, in the service of unearthing colonial violence. 

More specifically, it involves the amplification of and contribution to narratives that re-centre, remember and celebrate our communal Cypriot Self. In harnessing these digital tools, we can wield them to create community and begin healing. 

Through this social media world, I have begun the life-long journey of connecting with my Self, with my ancestors and with my community’s customs and folklore. I have come to understand that the fragmentation of Cypriot identity is a colonial invention, that decolonising our identity means embracing our indigeneity and resisting the urge for hyphenation, that our local dialects are something to be proud of, that our folk culture is vibrant, that our ancestors are resilient, that hope runs in our blood and always has. 

We are vessels of ancestral wisdom, but we have lost the connection to those that came before us: we are untethered, nomadic, reaching for those intergenerational memories that have been largely and violently obliterated from history, and longingly searching for our way home. 

But another question now comes to my mind. In hijacking these online applications (for the purposes of community-building and healing), do we actually abolish these oppressive structures? Hijacking these tools leads to the radicalisation of our consciousness, but this is only the first of many steps towards liberation. 

Consciousness-building precedes politically oriented action, such as abolition and mutual aid. How can we abolish if we don’t know what or why we are abolishing? In queering these tools we are able to distribute knowledge, share stories, learn our past, and unearth the existence of oppressions, and the extent to which our minds have been numbed by them. 

So when I ask whether queering the master’s tools can ever dismantle the master’s house, I believe that the answer is: no. But I don’t say this to be fatalistic. In understanding the limitations of consciousness-building, we can direct hope towards what needs to be done next. 

The online space I have been so blessed to have become a part of has exposed me to a collective Cypriot identity that has been repressed for so long.

In queering the master’s tools, we don’t dismantle, we don’t abolish the state’s institutions, nor do we actually implement structural alternatives to carceral violence. But in queering the master’s tools, we radicalise our consciousness and become cognisant of the fact that the master’s house must be dismantled. We reconnect with our innate capacity to dream abolition, and embark upon the journey of abolishing the borders in our minds. In doing so, we can then abolish the borders around us, and dismantle the master’s house.


All views expressed are the writer’s own.

Article Image Credit: Pixabay

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