Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The going for rebels is getting good!

Indian cops in the city of Srinagar in Kashmir are here attempting to break up a protest of government workers against the state government using water cannons (which cause a number of injuries including to eyes, internal organs & broken bones) with toxic purple dye. These volatile protests (demanding payment of arrears in wages, that all temporary employees be made permanent, & to raise the retirement age by two years because India has no social security net) have been going on for a few years now without resolution, despite the intransigent protests of workers.

There is globally an explosion of mass opposition to labor & social policies, uprisings against tyranny throughout Arab countries, militant protests against austerity policies in several European countries & in Latin America, movements by native tribes against land grabs & fracking on most continents. Even the politically somnolent US showed some indignation & militancy during the Occupy movement. But despite the rise in active militancy there are few unmitigated victories recorded. Mubarak was replaced with Morsi; sweatshops continue; fracking lines keep getting dug; land grabs are backed with military occupation; pensions & schools keep getting devastated.

This has led many intellectuals with a considerable distance from plebeian activism to write jeremiads bewailing the impotence of activism & heralding a prolonged era of despair--where rebels hold the fort by consoling each other for the futility of resistance to injustice.

Well let us write another obituary--for commentators who think they have a damn thing to tell those of us who don’t give up when the going is getting good. Millions of people around the world in motion & they’re throwing in the towel already!? Go back to your libraries & leave the rest of us alone to change the world!

It is absolutely right & judicious to ask why there are so few unqualified victories, why social transformation is still a distant dream, & why it’s so damn hard when so many people work & die for it. One reason is certainly the advantages & opposition of state power: military & police might, attacks on civil liberties, aggressive surveillance systems; propaganda, & bone-headed fundamentalists in every country. An entrenched system with powerful institutions of deceit is an extremely difficult thing to challenge let alone bring down.

If rebels & oppositionists are having trouble figuring all this out, knowing what to do about it, who to trust, where to turn for leadership that is understandable. It requires the broadest movement unity & democracy, discussion, debate, collaboration to come to understanding, let alone agreement about what is going on & what to do about it.

This is not the time for jeremiads. For rebels this is time for collaboration & unity in action. Those who believe in social transformation don’t have time for cry babies who are not so much disappointed in the results as daunted by the opposition of the powers-that-be.

(Photo by AP)

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