Best to be realistic

“Do you remember the tomorrow that never came?” asked a sad piece of street graffiti in Cairo, referring to the fate of the Arab Spring that once promised to overthrow the brutal autocracies that rule the Middle East. That tomorrow moved even further into the future this week when a coup displaced the last surviving democracy to emerge from the Arab uprising of 2011. Appropriately, it took place in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began a decade ago. There was nothing phoney about the Arab Spring in its first phases, though western media coverage [and the movements themselves] were over-optimistic about the chances of success.

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I identify with the broad progressive social change movement and the specific “greening of society” sub-movement. In regard to the latter my “areas of interest” are ecovillages-as-models, bioregionalism, Green politics. And my work involves (in addition to those activist “areas”) the editing of Green Horizon Magazine.

I constantly hear within the movement: “Time is short. Crises are imminent. We must be enacting change very soon, within the decade.” Or two decades. Or three. Or by the end of the century.

But it can’t be and it won’t be “within the decade” . . . or two. Some changes, yes, within a generation. More within two generations. More within two centuries.

Sorry, but a realistic perspective is better. The alternative is frustration, dejection, anger, depression, burnout. What good are those?

Social change does not happen overnight. When radical transformation is attempted it never works out well. Reaction follows.

Patient work with a positive spirit and realistic expectations is for the best.

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Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).