DOBBIN: Another political season is over
As you may have noticed I haven’t been blogging much over the last couple of weeks. (Largely this is because I have been immersed in fighting the privatization of the local sewage treatment system). But in part it is the result of having some doubts about what the point is. I often say to people that the left – whatever that is these days – has to offer people hope, not despair, if we are to motivate and engage people in social change action.
And yet I still feel like an expert at telling people how bad things are – alerting people to outrages they may not have noticed, predicting economic Armageddon, warning of what Stephen Harper has in mind for the country. It’s difficult not to respond to these developments and try to inform people about them.
But informed individuals can only do so much in the immediate political sense. If there are not organizations that fully grasp the catastrophes we are facing in the next few years, then individuals truly are ineffective in spite of their analysis and commitment to change.
Right now I have to say that there are few organizations in Canada – social, political, environmental, cultural – that demonstrate an awareness of the incredible urgency for action on all these fronts. I may be suffering from some sort of apocalypse syndrome but I find it distressing that the day to day world of social justice politics has not changed even though the situation has altered fundamentally.
I think there are good things happening at the micro level – in communities, neighbourhoods, smaller towns and cities. The turn-out for the G20 was impressive. And there is a growing understanding of the need for what I think is really a cultural revolution: a determined commitment to challenge capitalism at the individual level by refusing to engage in the consumer madness on which it is based. The idea of prosperity without growth is attracting more and more adherents.
But this kind of cultural change takes place slowly while the threats to the planet and to our social democratic way of life are enormous and immediate. Those threats are almost certain develop quickly and to sweep over us even as we attempt to prepare for them.
Without organizations committed to challenging these enormously powerful forces we are certain to suffer huge setbacks before cultural change begins to reflect itself in the political and economic world.
Does that mean completely new organizations? A huge change in the ones that already exist? Is the answer coalitions of groups that can together come to grips with the fight that is ahead of us? A concerted effort to transform the NDP into a real party of change?
That’s what I will be thinking about over the summer – between long visits to my hammock looking out at the lake in Northern Saskatchewan where I will be spending a month regenerating.
Which reminds me that it is a good time to remember that life, despite all its challenges, is a miracle. I’ll be thinking about that, too.
See you in August.