Reading the news from the World Social Forum held recently in Tunisia, I was reminded of kindergarden soccer teams, where the entire group of kids runs after the ball from one end of the field to the other. No positioning, no strategy, just endless exhaustive pursuit.
In world social circles, where NGOs discuss and debate the latest political ball to be chased, the one thing that isn’t discussed is how to actually change corrupt governments into good governments. They make pronouncements and publish plans about what latest evil they will oppose, but no one talks about actually organizing political movements to redistribute or seize power from those they oppose. While this might be a safe position to take, it is not revolutionary. Revolutionary is when you can mount a real challenge to established power, not when you merely make pious pronouncements.
As I noted in my editorial Fighting Intelligently, liberating social change can only happen when we democratize our institutions and governments, and that means working on the inside as well as outside. While advocacy is good, it is not enough. Until NGOs and civil society realize this, all their efforts and gatherings accomplish is to widen the sense of despair and bewilderment when so-called revolutions are betrayed. While these international gatherings have some educational benefits, if they don’t lead to political organizing that actually changes government policies and corporate conduct, they are arguably a waste of time.
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