We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Thursday, March 10, 2016
3 BIG reasons why street activism doesn’t work (and usually makes things worse)
There is much to be learned in this piece from an author who has been a long time activist in New York City. After many years he now realizes that protesting this or that government policy or action is not the solution. Unfortunately he does not propose what politics could be effective. I think that his level of understanding of the problem might be the problem. That limited understanding, I think, is the result of many years of indoctrination about all the freedoms we supposedly enjoy in America: free elections, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, etc. ("It's them damn terrorists who resent our freedoms!") But, of course, these civic lessons taught by employees of our masters are only another illustration of the many false notions about political reality that our indoctrination instills in us.
The political reality is that we live in a class dominated society and we, the overwhelming majority, are forced to serve a tiny minority of capitalists who fill our minds with all sorts of foolishness so that they can keep us bound in service to them. In order to free ourselves of their oppression, we must first understand this reality, then organize in some form, formulate plans to rid ourselves of this class rule (street demonstrations might be a part of these plans), review our experience and formulate new plans, etc, until we overthrow our oppressors. This is becoming no longer an option for us, because if we keep putting this off, we as humans will disappear from the Earth.
I am a veteran of the anti-Vietnam War movement that existed in the 1960s and early '70s. To my chagrin, as soon as the war was over, everyone went back to their private "business as usual". Most activists failed to understand that this war was just another venture of the US ruling capitalist class to subject all of the world to their rule. There would many other such wars and many other forms of oppression and suffering as we have subsequently witnessed.