“Because in today’s atmosphere your job in the big faceless corporation is more important than your opinion of the big faceless corporation”
Activism as defined by Google is the “Policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change”. Now that is all well and good but activism in the modern age has seen the proliferation of technology and a plethora of ideologies combing to work to a single goal – It doesn’t work in the 21st century!
Once upon a time we had movements cropping up everywhere to promote policy and public knowledge, many movements come to mind such as the LGBT community to gain greater human rights and equal recognition. Or the Civil Rights movement in America who promoted equal rights for African Americans and smaller ethnic groups. Both movements gained significant public exposure and change within society in an era that recognised individual rights over the collective.
But this is not always the case; the Occupy Movement has in recent months been almost unheard of in the news due to the stagnation of its cause, what is there to report? Some may say the mass inequality within the capitalist system, others may say ‘Free The Weed’ and others are just ultra-leftists who give the cause a bad name. The reason I use the Occupy movement as an example is down to the cause it represents (or lack thereof). It is a fact that causes with a single or multiple of beliefs within a single ideological strand often create significant change, however Occupy is an alamagamation of many ideologies with no clear purpose except to occupy space it seems.
Activism within the 21st century is relatively new, particularly in regards to digital activism that has given many groups a focal point to congregate and organise but often a shared belief is not enough. If we go back to the mid 20th century, African American movements congregated on mass to promote change, which was slow. But it garnered particular public support, unlike Occupy.
Or if we look at the French Revolution, which set the political atmosphere for much of the 20th and 21st century, we can see that mass proliferation of the public must be used to gain change. Mass consensus without mass participation will not lead to change. The Occupy movements problem is that they, as a group are raising a genuinely important issue within the public domain, however they are targeting people who are inherently apathetic to the cause even if they acknowledge it as just. Because in today’s atmosphere your job in the big faceless corporation is more important than your opinion of the big faceless corporation.
Activism has been the backbone to democratic process within the last century, but this process has slowed down to a halt, mainly due to the pluralism of ideals within society. To many people believe in to many things. To return to the Civil rights movement in America, society was a simple thing. There was no ‘counter-culture’ and beliefs centred on the belief in God, family and friends. This is no longer the case. Ideology plays such a role in society that groups are constantly competing for policy change and promoting causes. If you study the evolution of activism from the 1960′s until now. Activism has increasingly become a misnomer – irrelevant within the 21st century.N.B Activism in this case is the use of PR stunts and lack of action which seems to be a popular occurrence within todays groups.
The far left who are promoting the entirety of the Occupy movement’s campaigns; need to take notes of why their chosen path doesn’t work. Learn from past mistakes – were movements failed to gain momentum (which arguably Occupy did but it is now stagnating). The point of my argument is that to gain success in any movement especially the Occupy movement they need to get organised and stop promoting to many ideologies and policy changes. The Left seems to have a problem of fragmentation (just look at leftist polling statistics and you will see why). Often arguing amongst themselves to promote a cause they believe in, were right wing politics is often more controlled and to put it simply more fused in their ideologies.
Occupy and subsequently the left no longer has any real ideological enemies within society, due to the centralisation of political beliefs in the widespread populous. Rather it is nit picking the inadequacies within society, which YES do need changed but it won’t happen in the long term. To take action is to create a new model, not challenge the established one.
I very much do hope, people recognise the need for change, as I do not want to come across as a political hack that despises the movement. But more than often the self righteous lefty’s within the Occupy movement (and there is many) need to unite to change. This has not been done and it cannot be done. In reality they should go down the official route of lobbying their governments through proper means not PR stunts. These PR stunts as I see it, arguably are there to fortify the pride and arrogance of the organisers.
For Occupy to truly succeed it needs to align itself into a finely tuned political machine, why not start a new political party and form your own policy agenda? Why not just stop what you are doing and go back to your day jobs? I would be interested to hear what our readers have to say about it, does activism and more importantly Occupy need to evolve to gain any form of political change?
The Occupy Movements only contribution to the world was it’s highlighting of the fiscal power and corruption of faceless corporations, which in retrospect garnered little political change. As the political blog Progress put it the Occupy movement is a “unpalatable smorgasbord of religious, political and cultural ideas“. That reader is the very nature of its problem and of modern day activism. Groups are made up of to many ideologies and beliefs causing a stagnation and confusion within the group itself. I think its important to note as stated before, mass consensus without mass participation will not contribute to change.
Lucas McCartney is PostDesk’s Political Editor and Northern Irish political commentator, with a keen interest in politics, public affairs and social media. @themightykai