Framed as subversives, being Activists has become a stigma. Despite being widely peaceful, protests are brutally evicted, whistleblowers viciously attacked. Thousands of redundant petitions and campaigns wash out our grievances. Activism is in many predicaments.
The purpose of this article is not to complain about activism, but to discuss the limitations that exist, with the intention of suggesting a bolder vision.
Hundreds of organisations urge us to unite, to resist the power sructures, while a counterculture of new age citizenry is torn between new online communities with uplifting posts and likeable, "clickable" quotes, and authors, telling the truth about our lack of impact and our dwindling power to dissent. The fact is, that Activism is in some big predicaments. Progressives may be talking "Cooperation," but they're most definitely walking "Competition." There's little unity to work with in Activism.
The premises predicament: Activists can't see their purpose.
Organizations and Activists are trying to prevent and resolve all kinds of social and economic inequalities... conflicts. It's as simple as this. But Activists can't see how and why they are really part of a global "Peace Movement," because the term "Peace Movement" is glued to the "Antiwar movement" idea. After 50 years of organizing, there is no peace, and neither unity of purpose inside Activism.
The universal purpose of why we act, widely framed as “why we fight,” is to relieve what we perceive as a conflict. The purpose of all activism is what we know as “peace.” This statement doesn't make assumptions on whether you and us are necessarily against war, but merely that, when we act, we're all trying to resolve conflicts. The premise that only a category of Activists are fighting for peace, is essentially a myth. The widespread myth that only "Activists against wars" are promoting peace, is a myopic view of peace, that is neither in the interests of Activism in general, nor specifically of Antiwar organizations. Throwing light on this myth is profoundly important because it gives us the opportunity of becoming a unified will, that, obviously, none of the existing campaigns or emerging national social movements can hope to achieve.
The Nonviolence predicament:
Activists consistently apply non violent methods to share their grievances. But when they do, they are met with the sheer brutality of the state, that picks up every chance it gets, to frame protests as disorderly, violent, radicalised. If journalists or whistleblowers expose crimes, they are framed as fake, traitors, spies, even terrorists.
Nonviolence is still the only acceptable form of resistance, but according to the elites, we're always angry, complaining Anarchists. We have to create other identities, other alternatives to hashtags and online petitions, if we wish to see more powerful forms of resistance. All the available methods of nonviolence available have been tested and debated. Few, if any, have demonstrated to be effective.
The elites don't like to be exposed for their wrongdoings. Whistleblowers are consistently, viciously attacked, investigative journalists, who report corporate crimes, are vilified and silenced. Protests, no matter how peacefully they are, will always be presented as being disorderly. If the state can't find opportunities to display force, it will create them. German Professor Rainer Mausfeld has presented in detail how the power structures have invested billions in analyzing social movements (fwd to 28:00), and how they are always ways ahead of activists in knowing how to prevent new protests or dissolve existing ones (Occupy, Podemos, Corbyn, etc.).
The Management, Leadership predicament:
Howard Zinn was clear about the superior quality of direct-action as opposed to political representation in Activism. Unfortunately, today's leading thinkers, NGOs and online communities keep creating dependency, rarely create the conditions for Activism to be lead by thought, rather than by representatives. You all know it too well. You attach your name to a petition, about protecting minimum wage, about Fukushima, or about banning Whale hunting. You sign petitions to address hunger, poverty, protect important social services for the weakest among us. You keep looking at hundreds of petitions, asking the same things over and over, rarely knowing if someone even reads them, if the addressees even replies to them. We know how frustrating it is.
Then you keep following the independent media with the smartest and most knowledgeable authors and columnist. They write about what's relevant. They mention those who matter for progress. You're always following someone, repeating the things you already know, using exquisite words to narrate the sad story of the war on dissent, and how the window of Freedom of speech is closing fast.
The predicament in which Activism finds itself, is that the very nature of Activism itself is leaderless, but nothing, so far, allows us to identify as Activists, in a way that is both empowering and efficient at evolving social progress. No matter how we look at it, Activism is managed by organizations, led by personalities, by reporters, authors, thinkers, who tell you who to follow and what movements to support. Needless to say, they all grow an industry of interdependency that has little or nothing to do with empowerment, and more to do with self promotion and popularity.
How Activism should really be and what should it be about
The whole Activism, a massive, global movement of movements, for the most part dedicated to the wellbeing of the collective, including Animals, Oceans, Forests, civil Rights, Net Neutrality, Freedom of Dissent, has been made of heroic individuals, sharing the same values, generally moved by the same "concerns," hence by their projected fear. However, they all can’t see themselves for what they are, the almighty Peace Movement, simply because a handful of Antiwar-organizations, in the 1960s-70s have established that Peace Movement, should refer to their specific grievances, wars and nuclear disarmament. Those, represent the eternal struggle for Peace. How about that for a myth?
The English dictionaries say so too. They have all adopted humanity's biggest fallacy, and that is that peace is the absence of wars.
We have changed, and so can you.
Are we the only ones who see the huge predicament here? If you need more evidence that this is a problem, look at how Peace is abused by government. The linguistic usage of the word P.E.A.C.E. in international debate is utterly controlled by governments who claim they wish to bring us peace, but perpetuate wars in the pursuit of whatever they intend by the letter combination spelling the P.E.A.C.E. word.
The almighty Process of Peace, which by all means, should apply to the institution of Activism, is a never ending process of resolution of conflicts aimed at relieving our fears. This far more enlightened vision of Peace Process, might have officially started with Spartacus’, in his struggle for self determination and freedom. But Peace Process, is stuck in our language, in hundreds of tongues, to define the pathetic agreements of mutual non aggression or non nuclear non proliferation between corrupted nations, negotiated by negligent, inept politicians.
If you wish to change that, if you want to build a counter culture to traditional activism, with its dogmas and myths, and protest the use and application of humanity most cherished ideal, call yourself a #repeacer and take the 3 repeace commitments on the front page.
Peace Process, Peace Movement, Peace altogether are far more worthy to be defining social change, the Billions of compassionate individuals and small communities of self reliance and charity based organizations, than the definitions we currently read in English dictionaries.
That is something you can change with Repeace.
Once or twice, you may have read, or heard, how the power of creativity, the power of the free mind, lies in the fact that it can create new ideas, change old realities, and suddenly eradicate predicaments, at any time. If calling yourself an Activist, means identifying as a subversive, rely on an inefficient industry with millions (2.5 actually) organizations to share your concerns, by clicking LIKE and SHARE, or by throwing donations at them, then maybe its time to rebrand Activism itself, shift to identifications and methods that can do better than the current perpetuation of mediocrity.
Now you can gather behind the simple, straightforward, front page agreements, shift to #Repeace, call yourself a #Repeacer, and fix the rift between thousands of competing organizations, and hundreds of issues. Or you can come up with your own solution of efficient social change, but stop calling yourself an Activist... you're neither helping change, nor empowering yourself.
*. list of recent social battles, that have already been framed as "wars."
- ‘Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America’ (here)
- The Third World War has long begun - Jean Zigler (here)
- The Washington Post Has Declared War On Peacemakers - Dennis Kucinich (here)
- The Feds Have Turned America Into a War Zone (here)
- The Great American Class War. Plutocracy vs. Democracy - Bill Moyers (here)
- There Is A Real War On Americans (here)
- ‘When Did Americans Become the Enemy?’ (here)
- The Washington Post Has Declared War On Peacemakers(here)
- House and Senate Republicans Have Declared Economic War On Average Americans(here)
- ‘Call it what it is: A class war’(here)