Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Where the Sustainability Movement Falters...

Of late, I have been participating in a resilience circle. These groups are organized offshoots of the "sustainability" movement whose goal is to create a local, independent economy which can but does not necessarily use currency as a standard of exchange. Theirs is a noble and idealistic vision. But alone, it is not viable for scattered people and communities. The struggle is as unattainable as trying to bring socialism in one fragment of a country in a rabidly capitalist world.

We dare not underestimate the raw power of capital and its well-armed defenders. The magnitude of the force and repression unleashed against the Occupy Movement, particularly in the United States, is just one small example of what we're up against. This once sleeping dog will not settle back into slumber without a fight. People who desire a more humane and interractive world have to actively battle for it on many fronts. The economic struggle is significant, the environmental struggle absolutely critical but these two alone are not enough.

It is imperative that we also organize ourselves against the hatred that is tossed out for our consumption, like a wad of raw meat in order to divert the attention of the underclass and manipulate us into taking out our frustration on one another.

We are given all kinds of targets to keep us busy with hatred and suspicion: immigrants, people of color, women, LGBT folks, Muslims, Jews, atheists and agnostics, even the nebulous category, "intellectuals." To ignore organized prejudice when it rears its ugly head is a huge omission that will defeat our struggle.

I used to mollify myself by calling up that myth, made popular in the book and movie "Exodus," that the people of Denmark all wore yellow stars so the Nazi couldn't pick out and round up Danish Jews. It is a noble, heart-warming story but, like many stories, it is fiction. Nonetheless, we will all have to emulate this fictitious example of our higher nature on the streets and in our communities as certain groups are singled out for mistreatment both by law as well as by lack of legal protection.

Examples of organized lawlessness include the fact African-Americans have served as a kind of shooting gallery for police of late making it clear that some people are more expendable than others. Lack of legal protection has splintered immigrant families, singled out LGBT people for all kinds of discrimination. Laws against rights have prevented many couples from marrying and are now beginning to target women's control of their/our own bodies. Workers, now desperate for jobs, are losing benefits, pensions job security and any control over the conditions in which they work.

No one person can change these terrible injustices alone. We must have an agenda, a complete program that includes both the environment and its people. Doing so requires a discipline, an inclusion and a unity that we didn't have in the seventies when we tried so hard to change the world. We can and must learn from these mistakes. We may not have a second chance.