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Is activism dead?

by mel starrs on April 2, 2008

in Opinion, Theory and Comment

I opened up my Google Reader this morning to find this post by Michael over at Phil’s blog. Michael’s take on Greenpeace and the broader issue of activism is summarised by his remembering of AS politics:

it was the oppositional nature of our bicameral system that led to the fractious nature of politics in this country. It was not just for increased MPS that the sensible and progressive Liberal Democrats dreamed of proportional representation. But it’s not just in the Commons that oppositional politics reigns.

This awoke something in my synapses and I flicked through my trusty notebook (how very GTD of me) and found scribbled “Gen X not Monbiot or Mark Thomas – not radical“.

It’s something which has been cooking away in my brain for some time. The George Monbiots and Mark Thomases of this world are of a slightly different generation to me and I’ve never been able to get behind their views on the how of changing the world (I tend to agree broadly with the why and the when and the what ). Now George and Mark (both being born in 1963) may disagree with me here – they may view themselves as Gen X rather than baby boomers, but they are still both 10 years older than me and I think it shows in our attitudes.

I believe activism of Gen X and Gen Y today is less about sabotage and more savvy when it comes to corporatism and mainstream messages. This must be a disappointment to Greenpeace and other activists. Is activism as Greenpeace see it dead?

  • http://turnfront.com Chris Anderson

    I’m almost twenty years younger than Monbiot and Thomas, but I broadly agree with their hows as well as their whys, whens and whats. They are radicals, as am I, and there is always a percentage of each generation that use activism to change the way the world works.

    There is also a percentage that tries a different strategy, changing the system from within. I believe in a diversity of tactics, so I’ll work this way sometimes myself, and certainly don’t condemn others who do. But I think there is a real risk of losing focus on exactly what you are trying to achieve, and getting bogged down in the beaurocracy of it all.

  • http://turnfront.com Chris Anderson

    I’m almost twenty years younger than Monbiot and Thomas, but I broadly agree with their hows as well as their whys, whens and whats. They are radicals, as am I, and there is always a percentage of each generation that use activism to change the way the world works.

    There is also a percentage that tries a different strategy, changing the system from within. I believe in a diversity of tactics, so I’ll work this way sometimes myself, and certainly don’t condemn others who do. But I think there is a real risk of losing focus on exactly what you are trying to achieve, and getting bogged down in the beaurocracy of it all.

  • mel starrs

    Chris – good to hear there are some (young) radicals still out there – I don’t tend to come across any anymore. Greenpeace still have a hope then?

  • mel starrs

    Chris – good to hear there are some (young) radicals still out there – I don’t tend to come across any anymore. Greenpeace still have a hope then?

  • http://turnfront.com Chris Anderson

    Yeah, Greenpeace will continue to fight deforestation and climate chaos. And the pro-tibet movement will continue to fight for autonomy and against repression.

    I’ve observed a trend. First, the radical edge develop and adopt an idea. Around five years later, it goes mainstream. Radicals are having fun inventing the future – isn’t that cool?

  • http://turnfront.com Chris Anderson

    Yeah, Greenpeace will continue to fight deforestation and climate chaos. And the pro-tibet movement will continue to fight for autonomy and against repression.

    I’ve observed a trend. First, the radical edge develop and adopt an idea. Around five years later, it goes mainstream. Radicals are having fun inventing the future – isn’t that cool?