Framed as subversives, identifying as Activists, has become a liability. Nonviolent dissent gets ignored, or evicted. A steady growing number of organizations tell us to resist, fight, and unite. Why can't they? Activism is fragmented, disorganised, erratic. It rarely represents you.
It takes courage to say that the problem lies in the institution of activism, not in the establishment.
Indeed, it takes courage to shake up the complacency of traditional activism and tell organizations that their methods to organize are ultimately inefficient, redundant, outdated. There's no satisfaction in saying that there's no peace, nor progress in any "peaces," (here or here); Or that Nuclear deterrence is a myth (1, 2, 3, 4), for that matter; 50 years after MLK assassination, inequality reigns; In 2018, the U.S. Is Even More Gilded Than in 1918.
If humans wish to make some progress, small or big, they need to stop blaming the 1% for all of their problems and take a closer look at their conflicted nature, at conflicts of interests. We see millions of organisations and independent media, separated, split, fighting over the scarcity of donations and followers, in a dwindling pool of cynic and apathetic citizens. Is this how we're going to save ourselves? Is this where unity lives?
Martin Luther King's call to "organize as efficiently as those who love war," remains unanswered. The winner is not just the "1%," their greed, and their evil strategies of corrupting the easily corruptable. The winner is the affirmation of the self, not the bridging of differences. In this world, truthful are the ones who are “popular,” “trustworthy” are the ones who keep selling us books, those who have likes, followers, sadly, not the ones who have arguments.
It takes no pleasure to challenge or criticize your own team, but if using the same methods of resistance to try to score some points doesn't work, someone has to say it: "It's all getting us nowhere!" Likes are not going to end poverty or improve social mobility. Chris Hedges writes: "We must develop a revolutionary theory that is not reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers." Ralph Nader calls of “Breaking Through Power," it's all not happening.
Meanwhile, time is ticking and you're getting burnt out on activism, aren't you? Your email is flooded with petitions and organizations telling you to "resist." Our favorite revolutionary authors are promoting yet another book, throwing a different light on how evil the 1% are, why and how they wage wars and control us. They preach to an exhausted choir. Your circle of friends already thinks that you're too radical, too political, conspiratorial, even when you actually repeat the words of the most renowned authors! However, neither Naomi Klein, Scahill, Hedges, nor Noam Chomsky, have a magic wand to save humanity. They can't give activism that cohesion, that it sorely misses. Only the unexpected, meaning stemming from just about any thinking person, can produce the magic formula, the key, to unleash unprecedented global participation.
Revolutionary change can happen, when you begin to question the whole institution of social change. The traditional methods of organizing, protesting, raising awareness, picketing are... traditional, boring, so normal. The methods of activism are too traditional, too "doctrine." Myths and dogma don't lead to progress. We keep acting vicariously via organized groups, communities, new political movements. It's not surprising if people are not feeling empowered.
Chris Hedges is candid about the reality American citizens face to see radical change, based on the achievements of past popular movements. In a presentation (here, at 27:00) Hedges reminds us, that no matter how well organized American popular movements in U.S. history were, none of them (!) achieved formal and lasting change. All they managed to create were “openings” in American Democracy. Hedges points out that "the Liberal class is functioning inside a system of Capitalism, which grants just enough reforms to keep the underclass acquiescent." Most Americans are well aware of the limitations of movements, of the possibility to bring real progress to major social issues. 50 years after MLK assassination, they think that, inequality reigns (here).
However, when activists look at existing organizations for leadership and guidance, they find more of the same.
The Civil society may already have:
A * Too many experts telling what "WE" need to do; B * too many redundant campaigns and petitions telling us what WE need to sign and share; C * too many organisations trying to convince us, how instrumental it is that we support them.
Too bad that there's no WE to work with. The biggest enemy of the 99% is our inability to cooperate, to build a unity of purpose. For the sake of the collective, a community of ants or bees is united, cohesive. The wellbeing of the collective is paramount. Ants and bees don't promote individuality, freedom of expression, liberal values. They rely on electrochemical impulses to communicate. However, when it comes to protect from enemies, their achievements are remarkable, superior to ours. We, humans, despite being capable of complex communication, are stuck with our obsession with our most cherished human ideal, individuality, which makes us incapable of large scale, true cooperation, even in the most threatening times.
This is exactly what Malcom X said during the Civil Rights Movement, regarding the competition and the fragmentations inside the African American Movement.
"Whenever you find people who can't forget their differences, then they are more interested in their personal aims and objectives tan they are in the conditions of the whole. -Malcom X
- *: Take any of the unsolved, major issues facing American citizens: "We must stop voter suppression" (Robert Reich); "What "America" needs to prevent wars (Tom Hayden); or "We must all stop this perpetual war machine" (Sam Husseini); "We must get money out of politics" (Bill Moyers); On the whole debate of "Institutional Corruption" and on "how to fix Democracy," Professor Lawrence Lessig must have mentioned every problem, and also tried to lead the fight (or consult) in any number of organizations (,,,).
- *: Check out how many organizations keep raising awareness about relevant, recent issues, or about ongoing, never ending social battles. All these require repeated, constant engagement and campaigning. Short lived, small victories are the best you will get. Money out of politics: List of supporting entities, (image, here); Net Neutrality: List of supporting entities, (image, here; Stop Watching Us / "NSA" List of supporting entities, (image, here); Climate Change Action: List of the 1100+ entities supporting the 2015 climate march (here); Stop TTIP. List of the EU entities against Trade Agreement (here).
- *: In the U.S. Activism is like second nature for people. Responsible, compassionate citizens wish to solve problems. They fight for justice, freedom and equality, everywhere. So many, relevant organizations and communities should efficiently organize the public grievances. They aren't. Witnessing that every other awakened activist starts his/her own initiative to make a difference might be inspiring, but when our own individuality stands in the way of a cohesive collective, nobody wins. When it comes to cohesion, to merge voices into coherent action, to see past our own differences, to be one team against those who control everything, Activism is impotent. The Elites know what cohesion means, the 99% don't.
After worked hard in the anti-war movement in the US between 2002-2010, and having had direct involvement with several of the leading entities (names omitted), I’ve come to believe that the U.S. has become so fractured physically, psychologically, spiritually, intellectually, psychically, that there’s no way to have a coherent movement of any kind at this point." --renowned US Author and Journalist