Social and economic justice movements are on the defensive. While we've had lots of specific victories and built some terrific organizations, the balance sheet overall in the U.S. and global economy is pretty bleak. Activists are pushed into fighting on a daily basis, against the constant attacks from the right, and for the basic needs and rights that so many people do not enjoy.
We know we need to link our individual struggles in order to gain momentum as a movement, and build a more just world. But how do we get there? We are forced to fight daily struggles to defend what we have, so do we have the time or luxury to have bigger visions? Is it foolish to spend time dreaming of alternatives to a world so different from what we have?
Imagine you’re at a rally, listening to a speaker—I know that’s probably not too much of a stretch for most of us, but imagine that the speaker is especially compelling. She is making a hard pitch for everyone to join a new campaign.
The campaign is calling for the eradication of a process that limits, constrains, and narrows the lives of almost everyone in the world. Left unchecked, this process diminishes our capacity, forces us into isolation, limits our choices, and eventually kills everyone it touches. The speaker backs up her claims with facts, figures and stories of people who have fallen victim. Her case is rock solid, and she’s got everyone ready to sign on.
As a part of its tenth anniversary issue, our favorite allied publication, Left Turn, asked Organizing Upgrade editor, Harmony Goldberg, to write an article reflecting on the development of the U.S. left over the last decade. Harmony points out several key developments: the growth of a stronger trend of left organizers rooted in social movements, the development of a stronger culture of unity and principled struggle and the emergence of more integrative and holistic approaches to left work.
The story is getting painfully old. Local governments and corporations starve working class communities— normally also communities of color— for generations. Then, as if channeling Christopher Columbus, they announce that they have discovered that the neighborhood has been neglected for decades and that developers will build market-rate housing, trendy shopping and some massive sports complex in an effort to turn the neighborhood around.