In 1848 the Communist Manifesto sought to rally the Left re: what needs to be done and how to approach it. It’s now 172 years later. If a generation is about 25 years, then it’s seven generations later. And we read:
“With the Bernie 2020 campaign behind us, socialists and progressives face a question of where to focus our energies in the coming years. There is a desperate need for the Left to grapple with long-term questions about how to build a movement that can successfully challenge the ruling class and bring about a more just, free, and equal society.”
I’m sure you could find, during every year since 1848, a plethora of missives from organizations or publications with that “build a movement” message, so if we conjecture, on average, a hundred such missives per annum that would mean there have been close to 20,000. I’m sure I’ve read a thousand since joining up fifty years ago.
“We need to build a movement.” Starting today. And there have been 62,814 days since that fateful one in 1848.
The solution to this problem is that the orientation needs to shift — toward “building the new society within the shell of the old.” It would:
. replace the romantic concept of ‘revolution’ with the more-prosaic and incremental one of ‘transformation’
. include progressive social movement work and electoral activism, but be realistic about the extent of reforms that can be achieved
. let go of the delusion about the working class being the primary agency of social change and recognize that “building the new society” can be done by everyone
. re-orient the paradigm from “history moving forward by having a socialist system replace the capitalist system” to rejuvenating regional and local lifeways while deconstructing the institutions and technologies of the industrial state
A movement full of negativity — protests, challenges, dissents, disobediences — draws in complainers. What would resonate more broadly would be a positive vision, like: the greening of society.
“While industrial civilization continues its inevitable descent, humankind is being challenged to reimagine the good life, tell new stories of prosperity, and get to work envisioning and building a new world within the shell of the old.”