The march of history is complex and unpredictable and it is anything but linear. It is actually impossible to determine whether things are getting better or worse, some things are decidedly worse whilst in other areas we see great signs of positive change. Despite the temptation to indulge in measuring social progress, there’s actually not a lot of value in doing so. The most intelligent and practical way we can influence the future is to grasp the opportunities for positive social change that present themselves and give them the hardest nudge we can.sufferagestreetmeeting

We can reflect positively on the great shifts in social awareness on issues like feminism, the environment and sexual diversity since the 1970’s or we can wring our hands in dismay at the destructiveness of neo-liberalism over the same period. There is no end point to history, no place where we get to find out who won and who lost, it’s not even about that, it’s all just ongoing evolution for better or for worse however we each define those things. It can actually get better and worse simultaneously.

Whether we are aware of it or not we are all taking actions every day that contribute to changing the world into the future, so we may as well all consciously come to understand that we are all activists. The more we understand that all of our actions and choices are having an effect, however small, the more effective and empowered we can become.

The work of activists will never be finished, in every age there will be destructive and decaying power structures to struggle against and replace, and new opportunities for growth and social evolution to pursue. Strangely enough the solution to one problem will often also contain the seeds of the next challenge.

NoslaveryposterSocial movements are the powerful collective vehicles through which we get to consciously influence our destinies and their work will never be over as well. If we were born into the 11th century, the 19th century, the 23rd century or the present, all would still not be right with the world and yet paradoxically there would still be great and inspiring movements capable of challenging the power holders of our time.

And so it is in this time that we the people not just in Australia but across the globe are facing off against the entrenched economic and political power of the decaying fossil fuel empire. We fight locally through Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, nationally through Lock the Gate and globally through a vast complex movement of people, organisations, scientists and even political and religious leaders to move us from the fossil fuel age into a more sustainable future.

The vast wealth and the massive wars of the American century were built upon a contest to control the fuel that supplied the energy that humanity relies upon. But the technological revolution of renewable energy is now disrupting the political economy of fossil fuel, in fact threatening to make fuel itself a largely redundant part of the energy equation.

It can look so bleak at times as we face the climate deniers, the Murdoch press and the desperate backward looking politics of our federal government. Coal mines are massively subsidised, renewable energy is being actively discouraged. The state governments are introducing new anti-protest laws to try to stave off the epidemic of protest against gas and coal projects.franklinprotest

Everywhere we look it’s democracy and sustainability vs the fossil fuel industry, but the signs are actually quite hopeful. The fossil fools are falling into a protective phalanx of lies, denial, subsidies and counter attack, whilst outside their castle walls there is great activity, change and enthusiasm.

Society is ultimately an ecological system and change is constant. Our great social movements are at their best when they strategically disrupt dysfunctional old ways of being and spawn outpourings of creativity to bring about change. We can all play our part in this change as individuals and as social movements.

Survival can only ever be achieved through an enthusiasm for constant change. Conservatism and rigidity is a highway to obsolescence and senescence. We need to learn to feel comfortable in a life time of constant activism, in a millennium of constant activism for our work will never be complete, we are here to keep helping the collective to evolve and adapt.

First published in The Nimbin Good Times, August, 2015.

 

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