2012: Radical trends for struggle reviewed
January 04, 2012
2012 was an incredibly important year for social movements and for social change around the world. It began with the Occupy Movement just coming down from its peak in media-interest (even as it has continued to evolve into many different efforts that are still very active today, see: Occupy Sandy Relief, All in the Red, Strike Debt!, etc) and the year continued to generate inspiring movements all the way through the end of December. From the Maple Spring to the massive waves of self-immolations by resistant Tibetan monks, from growing efforts to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline’s construction, to the year ending with the very inspiring Idle No More environmental and indigenous rights movement that has swept across the globe, the year gave birth to many, many movements and resources for future resistance. The following are just a few trends that I watched unfold in 2012 that I hope to see continue in 2013:
1) Increased global connectedness – as with the years preceding it, the sheer number of people connected through social media, through sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, and through various less-corporate spaces on the internet, connectivity to the rest of the world has continued to increase. Al-Jazeera just bought CurrentTV and has announced their effort to increase their relevance in American media as the corporate American media providers continue to cover stories that render them increasingly irrelevant in a globalized content. Independent Media providers both on social media (like The People’s Record), and through more traditional mediums (such as Democracy Now! Free Speech TV, LINK TV, etc.) have multiplied and expanded their viewership significantly. As print media rapidly faces near-extinction, larger numbers of people are looking to non-corporate, non-traditional options for their news and information. This of course, is an incredibly important trend that we should be mindful of and that we should do our best to help accelerate. The more we rely on information sources that connect us to people in Bolivia and Botswana, to the perspectives of indigenous people around the world, to the Arab world, to Black & Latino people in America, to queer people, to the perspectives of women, to poor people around the world - information that connects us to oppressed people everywhere, traditionally left out of the corporate-media coverage, we become less and less able to ignore the way global capitalism ruins the lives of millions of humans around the world. When we think in a global and historical perspective, we reveal to ourselves the many absurdities of life in the ‘developed’ world today. This is essential to creating conditions under which fundamental change can take place.
2) Movements that target the source of power – for most of the substantial social problems we face in a globalized society, capitalism must be undermined and overcome in order to successfully heal those social woes. It is immensely inspiring to see a growth in class-consciousness, in consciousness about the nature of capitalism and in the exchange of ideas about how to best overcome capitalism. Movements like Democracy@Work that both targets problems with previous challenges to capitalism and yet, offers a blueprint for successfully challenging capitalism that won’t leave society broken, divided and stratified. Socialism and Capitalism were Merriam-Webster’s most searched words this year. People around the world are starting to acknowledge the role of capitalism in modern society and this year we can take that increased political consciousness and build strong, conscious, movements around it.
3) A long view on struggle – I remember when the Occupy Movement was at its height of presence online and in the media, one particular image of a protester holding a sign that said ‘We’re In this for Life’. That image had an effect on me. As an individual, what I can do to stop capitalism, to end oppression, to fight for human rights, etc., is marginal…unless you take the long view. The sum of a life of struggle is an incredibly powerful, immensely important dedication that a person can make. It can change the world. As a student of politics, the people I learn from today: Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Emma Goldman, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, Assata Shakur, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr, Che Guevara, Howard Zinn, and the list could really go on for a very long time –are all people whose lives speak as a sum of struggle against oppression created & sustained by capitalism. These are people whose lives were anything but easy, but who, from the time of political radicalization onward, lived their life as a struggle.
There could be nothing more dangerous to a system, than the whole of one’s creative and productive passions being devoted to a struggle against that system. And it is this mentality that I have seen mirrored by many who radicalized in the last few years and I hope that it is a trend that I see continue. I hope fifty years from now, I’ll be telling people about that moment I became politically conscious in late 2011, how I spent 2012 and every year after learning everything I could, and how from my political awakening onward, I devoted my passions to substantially affecting the world, and stayed dedicated to that devotion. Imagine the power behind thousands of individual devotees to struggle against oppression, targeting its real source. If we take the long view of struggle, we significantly increase our potential for success.
We all have an obligation to push ourselves in 2013 – struggle cannot be something that we participate in only when a movement gets approved media sensationalism, only to be dismissed a few weeks later when the media goes back to ignoring it. Moving forward, we need entities that act as infrastructure for struggle to be built and we need to empower those that already exist everywhere around the world.
Also, look out for our other end of the year post “2013: Suggested New Year’s resolutions for struggle” which is scheduled to post about an hour following this post.