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
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem
My god, I love this guy's writing! I love hearing such a sane, youthful mind trying to figure out what is happening among those who identify as activists. I found it quite disturbing, but revealing. I don't know if the biblical notion that "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"--something that I learned in Sunday school many years ago--is true or not, but I've since learned that without the truth, nothing good is possible. It appears to me that Emanuele has written the truth about a major part of the current state of activism in the US.
I think that identity politics has been a vitally important issue for young people to solve because I well remember some of our own weaknesses as we engaged in anti-Vietnam War activities on a major university campus. I particularly remember that the male leadership, of which I was a part, ignoring the participation of women in our movement. And we didn't make any effort to reach out to other than European Americans. (Gay people really didn't exist as legitimate people! And bisexual people simply weren't recognized.) Since then considerable progress has been made to rid activism of this divide and conquer strategy that has been used so effectively against working people throughout US history. It is no longer the major problem dividing and conquering us, and certainly not one that deserves primary focus by any activist group. Racist, feminist, and sexual orientation and identity issues must be seen as issues of equality that cannot be solved under capitalism simply because there can be no equality under a system that privileges one tiny class of people over the rest of societies, and in class structured societies that place production for profit as its central focus (read this article entitled "On the 'woman question'".)
Emanuele explains to us that agents of the capitalist class are doing their best, either consciously or unconsciously, to deter young activists from focusing on the Empire's crimes against people abroad (read this for a current illustration) and their crimes against working people domestically by funding and encouraging activist groups to be preoccupied with the these identity issues. This preoccupation has got to stop, and Emanuele's article represents an important contribution in this effort.
The only way this is going to stop is by working people supporting their own media by pooling together millions of small contributions. Activist organizations simply must examine their sources of funding and not take one dime whose ultimate source is the ruling capitalist class.