Does anybody know what they want?
Progressive activists chase after first one golden cause after another. One day it’s immigrant rights, and the next day it’s something else. All of us are like that because there are so many challenges and opportunities, and they come at us from different angles almost every day.
But, ultimately, what do we actually want? What would meet all the challenges and fulfill all the opportunities?
I’ve been trying to answer that question for some time. I’ve written three short novels about what people might do once a major transition of power had taken place. All my long anguishing boils down to this:
We want a world where all concerned people are organized and in charge. Afterward, we want them to remain organized and in charge while they do their best to end suffering and meet human needs.
What would that look like?
There are two fundamental organizing patterns: workplace and community. Through the past century, our unions were responsible for most of the uplifting that took place. Community groups have also made contributions, but they have tended to be more transitory. If everybody belonged to a workplace organization or to a community group, or to both, then everybody would be organized. Their taking power from the plutocrats would follow almost automatically. That’s what we want.
How do we get there?
Today, we organize ourselves into hundreds of progressive organizations. Most of them are transitory, but every experience in a mass organization is a learning experience. Hardly any of them even intends to take ultimate power, they simply are trying to affect the situation in the here and how. But people within them, and even people who are watching them without participating, are learning.
I often say that it doesn’t make much difference which progressive cause first activates an individual. If they stick to it, they all will eventually reach the same conclusion and tend to join the larger cause.
One of the biggest problems is that they don’t stick to it. A lot of people get discouraged and quit. Hardly anything is as pathetic as listening to older people say, “When I was young and bullet proof I used to believe in causes, but I’ve learned since then that you just can’t fight city hall,” or words to that effect.
So, overcoming discouragement is critical. Right now, people need more inspiration than information. They need to courage to try, and to go on trying.
So here’s the eternal question: “What do I do now?” and here’s the answer: “Promote mass activities that have the potential to bring information and inspiration to working people.” And keep at it!