The Limitations of Activism or Don’t Just Do Something

Posted: November 2, 2011 by guytoyourleft in Uncategorized

People are rising up across the world against the robbery and murder perpetrated on behalf of financial elites by governments under the euphemism austerity. While inspiring many new people to participatory democracy, these seemingly spontaneous uprisings are often anchored by rank-and-file labor and community groups that have been engaged in a long struggle for social and economic justice. Business labor and NGO groups that have long served the system are being pushed aside.

There is a tremendous amount of creativity and energy in these uprisings. They are wonderful expressions of changes that we desperately want and need in our world. They’ve brought people together in a way that has long been discouraged by the ruling class – the 1% – and their allies. So far most of them have resisted negotiating points, handles that could be manipulated by the system to bring the movement under control. There are attempts to placate, buy off, co-opt, and claim these movements by people who have long served the enemies of these movements. For the most part, the people aren’t buying. The one demand seems to be nothing less than: we want our world.

Those of us who care about changing the world need to be a part of this movement. These events are extraordinary and exciting. What they are not, altogether, is new. Popular uprisings have frightened governments and toppled rulers before; what they have yet to do is defeat the global system of capitalist powers who have ruled this world for centuries. This is the only thing that will bring enduring social, environmental, and economic justice to the world.

We need to be part of this battle, reminding people that nothing short of liberation will do. We need to remind them that to do this will take masses of people working together to overcome the entrenched powers. That it is neither accidental nor inevitable that some are rich while most of us, in one way or another, serve the rich. That there is a conscious effort on the part of those who have, to keep, and to have more. They do this through a system that requires them to reject any limit on exploitation of human labor and environmental resources. Never enough.

We need to convince people that we need a conscious effort of our own in order to wrest our world from the tiny minority who have convinced themselves for generations that they are entitled to own and to rule.

Rallies, demonstrations, creative expressions of outrage and discontent, are a welcome sign that people may be becoming ready to act in ways that will ultimately lead to the liberation of us all, but expressions are not enough. What is needed is nothing less than the willingness of masses of people to resist oppression and exploitation and take control of our own lives and our own world. We must plan together and act together to create a force powerful enough to overcome the forces of lies and wealth and arms. This is a great moment, but it’s what we do in this moment and the moments that follow that will decide.

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