Hola mi gente,
This is for the energy freaks who may not adequately appreciate that attention to all of life, and not just the positive, is essential in envisioning and creating a better world.
Your generosity will support my writing and advocacy as well as my desire to amplify the voices of those who don’t get heard, but are the ones most directly impacted by the compromises we in the advocacy world make on a daily basis. In fact, if there is a heaven, the first words you will hear are, “It’s a good thing you gave to Eddie otherwise you’d be ass out.” LOL
Making Hope Possible
To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.
— Raymond Williams
The above quote appears in all my email signatures and serves as a reminder for me…
So, some of you may ask, “Who are you to ask for a donation? What have you done and are doing?” Simply put, I am a dedicated activist, writer, and advocate who for the past 20-plus years has fought for human rights at a time in our shared history that demands that the human species achieve some fairly unprecedented evolutionary advances.
I don’t want to run a long laundry list of the world’s problems, but I think it’s safe to say that humankind now faces some fundamental and unprecedented challenges. These include questions about our modern forms of social organization and governance, and questions about our planet-destroying system of maximum production and consumption.
The answers to these very important questions are my challenge.
The shadow looming over us all, of course, is climate change global warming caused by human activity — a technological incubus that has been haunting us for more than a generation even as our so-called leaders look the other way. That is surely because to confront the sources of global warming and its consequence, climate change, is to confront the very foundations of capitalism itself. The very real possibility that we are about to unleash an ecological disaster that will make all extinct is simply the most urgent of a long cascade of other environmental crises now underway — the massive species extinctions, dying coral reefs, depleted groundwater, lead zones in the ghettos, and so on. Our impact on the planet’s ecosystem is so pervasive that it now qualifies as a separate geological era, the Anthropocene.
It is customary to speak about problems such as “the environment” and “economic inequality” as if they were something out there as abstract policy issues somehow separate from us. But in fact these problems are rooted deeply inside of us — in how we relate to our world, how we relate to each other, and how we have structured our institutions. We are still under the Cartesian delusion that our bodies and minds are separate, and by extension that humanity is different from nature. This lets us maintain the dangerous denial that we can continue to recklessly pillage the biosphere, particularly if there’s money to be made.
So why do I bring up these troubling thoughts?
I think we are also at a time and place in which we have rare opportunity to plant a seed for creating a society based on compassionate logic and ethic — and to make coalitions with others who are searching for a new way to live. The same technological advances that threaten our existence on the one hand, can serve to bring us together to envision and create the kind of world we want to live in on the other. It can start different types of conversations, movements, and projects.
The ripple effects of these efforts could go far beyond the local to the global. In fact, we have seen such nascent movements appear. There are the global occupy movements here in the States and Los Indignados in Spain, for example. There were the Arab Uprisings. And before that, there was the anti-nuclear movement, and the Zapatistias in Chiapas, and on and on…
While we stand at the precipice of extinction, we’re also at the start of evolutionary quantum leap the likes of which we have never seen before. As with every evolutionary leap, there are several potential outcomes — death and life being the two main ones.
But before I on to why I have these wild visions, let me share some of my experiences on the frontlines of activism. It might help explain why I see so much potential.
I “re-awakened” during the early 1990s, and became depressed at the sorry state of the U.S. political culture — and the even sorrier state of progressive activism. The neoliberal Trojan horse, Bill Clinton, was the one who gave us telecom deregulation that resulted in massive media consolidation, the loosening of securities and banking laws that culminated in 2008 financial crisis, and so-called welfare reform has decimated poor people and the most vulnerable in our society. At the same time, nonprofits have become so professionalized and locked into their funding base, they don’t dare to experiment or innovate lest it marginalize them politically or, worse, be cut off the nonprofit-industrial teat (more on this in a post to come soon).
I came to realize that liberalism, at least as co-opted by the U.S. two-party system, was not going to produce the kinds of changes our society really needs. It became clear that conventional public policy and law have been taken hostage by the two major political parties, which themselves are both under the thrall of business elites. It is an incestuous alliance of the two great forms of power in our country, which systematically seek to diminish both democracy and the power of the people.
I am not saying that we simply walk away from politics, policy, and law. These institutions remain vital arenas of engagement. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that our politics today is too structurally compromised to produce much significant change. The game is rigged and most of us know this. We live in a runaway society — an oligarchy of crony capitalism, poorly performing government institutions, declining democratic participation, and slow-motion ecological collapse.
But if the 1990s created despair in me, I also discovered the great, transformative potential of the power of the people — the commons — which has been my passion for more than twenty years. One way to understand the commons is as everything that we inherit or create together, which we must pass on, undiminished, to future generations. The commons could be understood as a social system for managing shared wealth, with an emphasis on self-governance, fairness and sustainability. The commons is also a worldview and ethic that is ancient as the human race but as new as the Internet.
There were two other things going on in the 1990s that pushed me out of the liberal tradition and into the grassroots. The first was the emergence of the World Wide Web in 1994 as a popular medium. As I began to write for the web (first in Usenet newsgroups then as a blogger), it gradually became clear to me that parts of cyberspace is a realm in which neither the state nor the market is the driving force. Here, social cooperation is the norm and hugely productive without markets or formal law. I learned to see that the Internet is really a massive hosting platform, a new fantastically adaptive infrastructure that is generative because it lets people self-organize their own resources.
When blogs, wikis, and social networks began to proliferate in the early 2000s, it was clear that something very new and different had arrived: a more democratic, less hierarchical way to organize and to challenge the mainstream narrative. This phenomenon simply cannot be explained by mainstream economics and its model of human beings as selfish, rational, utility-maximizing materialists.
The second thing that I encountered since then was the unlikely rise of an eclectic social movement based on the principles of common interests. It has had several notable international social movements, and it has many active hubs of strategic action. It is what makes hope a reality.
Which brings me back to the great British critic, Raymond Williams, who put it so well: “To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.” That is the real challenge that we face, to overcome cynicism and hopelessness, and to bring about the many serious alternatives awaiting our creativity.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery for civilization…